Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Tuesday called for President Barack Obama to apologize after actor Robert DeNiro jokingly asked if America was ready for a white first lady.

"Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?" DeNiro wondered at an Obama fundraiser in New York on Monday.

According to a pool report, the crowd "roared" in response to DeNiro's joke. "Too soon, right?" he quipped.

At an event in Shreveport, Louisiana on Tuesday, Gingrich defended all the potential white first ladies.

"I do want to say one thing on behalf of my wife and on behalf of Karen Santorum and on behalf of Ann Romney," the former House Speaker began. "That is that I think Robert DeNiro is wrong. I think the country is ready for a new first lady. And he doesn't have to describe it in racial terms."

"These are fine ladies as is Michelle Obama, but this is not about the first lady. It's about the president, and that's where DeNiro missed the whole point. DeNiro's rich enough that he probably hasn't noticed the price of gasoline. He's successful enough that he probably doesn't notice the unemployment rate. And as a Hollywood actor, he may be shortsighted enough [that] he hasn't seen what the deficits will do to our children and our grandchildren."

Gingrich continued by calling on Obama to personally say he was sorry for DeNiro's remarks.

"What DeNiro said last night was inexcusable," he insisted. "The president should apologize for it. It was at an Obama fundraiser. It is exactly wrong. It divides the country. And if people on the left want to talk about radio talk show hosts then everybody in the country ought to hold the president accountable when somebody at his event says something that is utterly and totally unacceptable as Robert DeNiro said last night."

The Georgia Republican added: "And I call on the president to apologize for it. I have a personal preference, obviously, for Callista to be the first lady, but I tell you, I would also be very proud and very honored to have Ann Romney as the first lady, to have Karen Santorum as the first lady. I think that what DeNiro said was just beyond the pale and he should be ashamed of himself."

Watch this video from CNN, uploaded March 20, 2012.