Virginia governor battles scandal
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is rebuffing calls for his resignation over racist photos in his 1984 medical school yearbook. A photo from his personal page in the Eastern Virginia Medical School publication surfaced on Friday showing two people standing side-by-side, one wearing blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam issued an apology Friday, though he did not say which costume was his. Then, during a Saturday news conference, he denied he was in the photo, though he disclosed he once wore blackface to imitate singer Michael Jackson at a dance contest. On Saturday, a page from his Virginia Military Institute yearbook surfaced that had a racial slur, apparently a nickname, under Northam’s photo.
Both state and national Democratic leaders have called for Northam’s resignation, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, all three of whom are running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement saying the scandal has “eviscerated” Northam’s ability to govern.
The governor, whose term ends in 2021, said he planned to remain in office as long as he could. Republicans have called for his resignation since last week for comments he made in support of a late-term abortion bill in his state that eventually failed to pass. In a radio interview, Northam described a hypothetical situation in which an infant who was severely deformed or unable to survive after birth could be left to die, even after delivery: “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
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