In his first television appearance following a chaotic week in Virginia politics, Gov. Ralph Northam told CBS host Gayle King that despite calls for his resignation, he’s “not going anywhere.”
“Right now, Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do that than a doctor,” Northam told King during the interview, which is set to air in full on Monday on CBS’s This Morning.
The comments follow a tumultuous week that saw both Northam and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admit to previously wearing blackface while they were in college. Also, two women came forward with detailed allegations that Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax had sexually assaulted them.
Asked if he’d thought about resigning amid a chorus of calls that he do so, Northam told King that he’d considered it but decided against it.
“Yes, I have thought about resigning but I’ve also thought about what Virginia needs right now,” Northam said. “I really think that I’m in a position where I can take Virginia to the next level.”
“We have a number of inequities in this country right now, and in Virginia, and we’re in a position to really stop talking so much and now to take action with policy to address a lot of these inequities,” he added.
Northam’s comments echo his statements to the Washington Post in an interview published on Saturday. BuzzFeed News originally reported that Northam planned to deflect calls for his resignation by re-framing his agenda on racial inequality.
During the interview, Northam brought up the state’s racial history. “If you look at Virginia’s history we are now at the 400 year anniversary, just 90 miles from here in 1619, the first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores,” Northam said, before King interjected to say the practice was “also known as slavery.”
Later in the clip, Northam called for an investigation of the allegations that have risen against Fairfax, calling them “very, very serious.”
“If these accusations are determined to be true, I don’t think he’s going to have any other option but to resign,” Northam said, stopping short of saying Fairfax should resign immediately.
Northam demurred when asked if Herring should resign after he apologized for wearing blackface in college.
“I know Attorney General Herring well, as I do Lieutenant Governor Fairfax, and you know, we have all grown,” Northam said. “I don’t know what the attorney general was thinking, what his perception was of race, of the use of blackface back then. But I can tell you that I am sure, just like me, he has grown. He has served Virginia well and he and I and Justin, all three of us have fought for equality.”