Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam attempted on Saturday to rationalize his decision to not step down after a racist photo surfaced from his medical school yearbook page. But even after hearing Northam tell his side of the story — that it wasn’t him in the picture — prominent Democrats are still calling on him to resign.
It’s easy to see why Northam’s press conference didn’t help his cause: The event quickly devolved into a train wreck.
Northam apologized profusely for the image, which showed a man in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume, and for any pain that it might have caused. “It is disgusting, it is offensive, it is racist,” he said. But in denying that he posed for that racist photo from 1984, Northam admitted to dressing up in blackface that same year to compete in a dance competition dressed up as Michael Jackson. He described in detail how to apply blackface with shoe polish, and the difficulty of washing it off. It even seems likely that Northam would have moonwalked onstage had his wife, Pam, not stepped in to tell him that’d be a bad idea.
Those who were waiting on the sidelines before offering their opinions emerged Saturday afternoon unconvinced that Northam should remain in office.
But it’s not just Northam’s opponents who are saying he should resign. Members of his own party have added their voices to the chorus. Some — like Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez — even released their statements calling for Northam to step down as he continued to take questions from reporters.