(Reuters) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Saturday resisted mounting strain from his Democratic social gathering that he resign, denying that he appeared in a racist yearbook photo whereas admitting he as soon as wore blackface in a dance contest.
FILE PHOTO: Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, Democratic candidate for governor, delivers remarks earlier than introducing former U.S. President Barack Obama to talk at a rally with supporters in Richmond, Virginia, U.S. October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Northam, who took workplace a 12 months in the past, mentioned he would keep in his job. “As long as I feel that I can lead, I will continue to do that,” he mentioned.
Northam had apologized on Friday, saying he was one of many individuals proven in the photo from his 1984 medical college yearbook, which depicted one particular person in blackface standing subsequent to a different in a Ku Klux Klan costume.
But on Saturday he mentioned he appeared on the photo extra rigorously and is bound it was not him. In a information convention alongside his spouse, Northam mentioned he had made different errors, together with dressing up in blackface to mimic Michael Jackson in a dance contest across the similar time.
“I actually won the contest because I had learned to do the moonwalk,” Northam mentioned, referring to a dance transfer made well-known in half by famed American singer Michael Jackson.
Northam apologized for his previous actions and vowed to work to earn forgiveness.
“I am simply asking for the opportunity to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person I was is not the man I am today,” Northam mentioned.
Northam’s press convention seems unlikely to quell the rising strain from inside his social gathering for him to resign.
Even as Northam was talking, Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, mentioned it was time for him to step apart.
“Virginians and people across the country deserve better from their leaders, and it is clear that Ralph Northam has lost their trust and his ability to govern,” Perez mentioned in an announcement.
Democratic U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer of Virginia mentioned in a joint assertion that they’d not heard something that modified their view that Northam ought to resign.
Earlier in the day, others additionally referred to as on him to step down.
“Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately,” former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat weighing a 2020 presidential run, mentioned on Twitter.
Protesters gathered in entrance the his workplace in Richmond, Virginia, waving indicators demanding he step down.
The head of Northam’s social gathering in the state additionally referred to as on him to give up.
Other distinguished Democrats – together with 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Julian Castro – have been calling on Northam to resign since Friday.
Northam, a 59-year-old pediatric neurologist and Army veteran, graduated from Norfolk medical college in 1984.
The Virginia-Pilot, which printed the photo on Friday, mentioned on its web site it obtained a duplicate of the photo from the Eastern Virginia Medical School library.
Reporting by Jason Lange in Washington; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Nick Zieminski