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July 20, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam vows to overcome blackface controversy: ‘I’m not going anywhere’

February 12, 2019
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam denied allegations that he is pictured in a yearbook photo wearing racist attire. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is doing an about-face.

The embattled Democrat told “CBS This Morning” on Sunday that “I’m not going anywhere,” despite earlier this month apologizing for posing in a racist yearbook photo featuring a man in blackface and and another person wearing a Ku Klux Klan uniform. Northam — who admitted to wearing shoe polish on his face for a different costume — later claimed to “believe now” he was not one of the figures in the yearbook photo.


“I have thought about resigning, but I’ve also thought about what Virginia needs right now,” Northam told CBS host Gayle King. “I really think that I’m in a position where I can take Virginia to the next level.”

Northam acknowledged that he’s heard pundits and fellow politicos call for his resignation, but decided to stay in his job because his state “needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass.”

The controversial photo appeared in the governor’s 1984 Eastern Medical School yearbook page above the caption “Goose, Coonman.”

"I'm a leader. I've been in some very difficult situations,” he told CBS. “Right now, Virginia needs someone that can heal. There's no better person to do that than a doctor.”

Northam also talked to King about Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring, who also admitted to darkening his face for a costume in 1980.

“I can tell you that I am sure, just like me, he has grown,” he said.

What would become of the governor’s seat if Northam stepped down became a lot more complicated when accusations of sexual assault against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax surfaced last week. Northam discussed those charges with CBS as well.

“If these accusations are determined to be true, I don't think he's going to have any other option but to resign,” the governor said.

Fairfax denied the accusations and called for an investigation.

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