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Raging bulls: Donald Trump fires back at De Niro

April 25, 2011 |  1:11 pm

Trump

In an appearance on Saturday, Robert De Niro questioned Donald Trump's integrity. In an appearance on Monday, Trump questioned De Niro's intelligence.

Speaking to a Tribeca Film Festival audience this past weekend on the issue of politics, the actor said that some are "making statements about people they don't even back up. It's a big hustle."

He was referring, apparently, to Trump's birther crusade against President Obama. De Niro never mentioned Trump by name, but when moderator Brian Williams interjected wondering whether De Niro was referring to a personality who had a show on NBC, De Niro tacitly acknowledged it by continuing the tear against Trump: "How dare you? That's awful. Just to go out there and say things you can't back up. That's crazy."

Speaking by phone to the hosts of "Fox & Friends" on Monday morning, Trump let his own resentment fly. "Well, he's not the brightest bulb on the planet," the mogul said of De Niro. "I have been watching  over the years and I like his acting, but in terms of when I watch him doing interviews and various other things, we are not dealing with Albert Einstein." Trump went on to continue to hammer at the birther theme. (The video is below; relevant portions start at about the 3:00 mark.)

It was the second time in a week that Trump took aim at an entertainer. After Jerry Seinfeld pulled out of a Trump charity event over the birther comments, the "Celebrity Apprentice" star/producer went after Seinfeld and his failed show "The Marriage Ref," calling it "terrible."

Public interview skills have been a shaky area for De Niro -- Saturday's event further underscored it -- though it's rarely been seen by those who poke at it, including Williams and David Letterman, as a matter of intelligence so much as awkwardness or introversion.

Of course, there may be a larger end-game in Trump taking a shot at De Niro or Seinfeld: If the coiffed one is indeed serious about a bid for president, he could find worse strategies than running against liberal Hollywood.

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

RELATED:

Tribeca 2011: Fitfully, Robert De Niro talks about his acting past and future (and Donald Trump)

Photo: Donald Trump addressing the CPAC convention. Credit:  Alex Brandon / Associated Press

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