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Northam says it wasn't him in racist photo

Northam says it wasn't him in racist photo

Virginia governor Ralph Northam appears to have nearly no choice but to leave office after losing support from virtually the entire state Democratic party and other key allies.

Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference he had prematurely apologized for appearing in what he called a "horrific" picture of a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit in his 1984 yearbook page.

Northam was an adult while attending Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1984.

The Virginia-Pilot, which published the photo on Friday, said on its web it obtained a copy of the photo from the Eastern Virginia Medical School library.

On Friday night, Northam issued a video apologizing for the incident but said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term.

Mr Northam said he was not asking for forgiveness for his past actions but for "the opportunity to demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt that the person I was then is not the person I am today".

The New York Times reported Saturday that Northam was calling former classmates to try to find out more information on the photo, with CNN citing a source who said that Northam believed the yearbook pictures may have been mixed up.

"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 a statement. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen.

The yearbook image is "an example of a painful scourge that continues to haunt us today and holds us back from the progress we need to make", Fairfax, whose great-great-great grandfather was a slave in Virginia, said in a statement posted on Twitter.

That official, who relayed to The Associated Press what the pair discussed, has not been identified, but quoted Northam as reiterating that he has no immediate plans to resign.

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At first, a Virginia Democrat defended Gov. Ralph Northam amid backlash over an old photo that surfaced, but now, Democrats are aligning in calling for the governor's resignation.

The revelation comes amid a wild week in which Northam, a Democrat, was criticised after he made comments defending a bill that would have lifted restrictions on late-term abortions.

It hasn't been a good Saturday for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

The Democratic Party of Virginia said in a statement Saturday that Northam should step down immediately and be replaced by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Judge the man on what he is doing now, now on what costume he wore and what yearbook photo he chose - or even what he may have believed about race - in 1984.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement late Friday saying "we feel complete betrayal" and are "still processing" the pictures.

Last week, Florida's secretary of state resigned after photos from a 2005 Halloween party showed him in blackface while dressed as a Hurricane Katrina victim.

"There's no question the tide turned", said one ally, who had been briefed by the governor's senior staff.

Senator Cory Booker, an African-American 2020 presidential hopeful, was one of the first big name Democrats to react. The page shows a picture, at right, of a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood next to different pictures of the governor.

Northam, a former pediatric neurosurgeon and Army doctor, won the governorship in 2017.