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Northam resists calls to resign: I’ll keep fighting ‘for all people’
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Friday night dismissed mounting calls for his resignation after admitting that he appeared in a picture showing a man wearing blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
"I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust," Northam said in a video posted to Twitter after multiple Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups called for him to step down.
"I have spent the past year as your governor fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people. I am committed to continuing that fight through the remainder of my term and living up to the expectations you set for me when you elected me to serve."
Northam, who entered office last year, defended his public service in the video, saying the "racist and offensive attitudes" the picture represents do "not reflect that person I am today or the way that I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor and a public servant."
The video follows a statement Northam released earlier in the evening apologizing for the picture that was published by The Virginian-Pilot and other outlets on Friday. The photo came from Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook housed in the Eastern Virginia Medical School library.
"I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now," Northam said in the statement.
He did not clarify if he was the person in blackface or the KKK robe.
Northam has faced mounting calls for his resignation, with both Democrats and Republicans saying he needs to leave office.
"Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together," tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), one of two African-Americans running for president so far.
"Racism has no place in Virginia," Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jack Wilson said in a statement. "These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately."
A series of activist groups, newspapers and political operatives also echoed calls for Northam's resignation.