Transcript for Lawmakers call for Virginia governor to resign over racist photo
And we begin here with the embattled governor of Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam. He is facing a chorus of calls for his resignation this morning after this picture surfaced. It’s from a medical school yearbook more than 30 years ago when Northam was 25 years old. The photo shows two people, one in blackface, the other, as you can see, wearing a Ku klux Klan uniform. Northam has apologized but has not said which one was him in that picture. Overnight Northam vowed to serve out the remainder of his term but with many of his allies abandoning him, is political survival even a possibility? We begin our coverage with ABC’s Zachary kiesch in Richmond, Virginia. Zachary, good morning. Reporter: We’re in Richmond, Virginia, in front of the governor’s mansion here. It is the capital of the confederacy. That’s history but some say it’s the governor’s past decisions that are impacting his ability to lead now and that’s why they’re saying he’s got to go. Democratic governor Ralph Northam appealed to a broad cross section of virginians and was viewed by some as a rising star. This is somebody that you will be proud to have as your governor. Reporter: All of that changed Friday when this photo appearing to show two people, one in blackface and the other in kkk garb was revealed by the publication, “Big league politics.” That photo and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents does not reflect that person I am today. I am deeply sorry. Reporter: Northam is not saying which person in the photo is him. But this morning, folks on both sides of the aisle are calling on him to resign. Virginia GOP chairman jack Wilson appearing on CNN to address the issue. If he is in the statement or in the photograph either in blackface or kkk garb, he needs to resign. Reporter: The photo appeared back in 1984 in what’s being described as a student produced publication while Northam was studying to be a doctor at eastern Virginia medical school. Overnight another yearbook photo of Northam emerged, this time from Virginia military institute in 1981. In it a racial slur is listed as the governor’s nickname. This is something that, yeah, took place some years ago but how is it that given the current climate we can recover from something like this. Reporter: Virginia’s two democratic senators stood by the governor but buy Friday night, six of the eight democratic presidential candidates said he should step down. Just last month Florida’s former secretary of state Republican Michael Ertel resigned the same day a photo of him in blackface at a party nearly 15 years ago was published by “The Tallahassee Democrat.” We recognize in this moment that a lack of accountability continues to build a culture that allows racism to be permissible. Reporter: Obviously a big story and in a weird twist of irony, if the governor does resign, lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax would succeed him. Fairfax is a 39-year-old ivy educated black man and the descendant of slaves. Zachary, thank you. Let’s bring in our chief political analyst Matthew dowd. He’s joining us from Texas this morning. Matthew, good morning. So we have, as we saw there, some Democrats in the united States senate defending Northam and, meanwhile, some Republicans are saying, how can you hold judge Brett Kavanaugh responsible for his high school yearbook and then come to Northam’s defense who is much older in his yearbook. So, what is your take? Well, first I don’t think anybody should be in the process of defending this. Obviously this picture and what it stood for is indefensible so nobody should defend this in the course of this. I would just argue, one, that the yearbook in Brett Kavanaugh’s case wasn’t what the supreme court discussion was about. It was about whether or not he sexually assaulted a woman, Christie blasey ford and it wasn’t about what was in his yearbook and, second, when people climb the moral high ground they better make damn sure their boots are clean and we should put parties aside and examine all of these issues in a cases that’s not Republican or Democrat and what people have done in their past and present. So, we’re seeing as Zachary reported many of the democratic presidential candidates now weighing in on this story. Given the diversity of the burgeoning democratic field and that this campaign will take place in the era of trump, do you believe we’ll talk about race a lot through the 2020 election and can we do this constructively? I would not only add the diversity of the field of the Democrats but the diverse of the congress that got elected in 2018 and the diversity of America. This will be an election that will be decided with the most diverse electorate that we’ve ever seen in American history. I think we are going to have a conversation about race. We are going to have a conversation about sex and we are going to have a conversation about those things in American history that divide us and I think it would be a good thing if we had a nuanced conversation, a complex conversation about our past, about our present and what do we want our future to be with all of these issues. I think race will be front and center in the course of the next 19 month. Given the nature of our current discourse, let’s hope we can do this constructively. Matthew dowd, we always appreciate your analysis on a Saturday morning. Thanks, no problem at all, and rams are going to win the super bowl. On that, sir, we disagree for the first time this morning. I’m with you. Let’s move right along
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