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Tapper Asks Former VA Gov. McAuliffe if Northam Has ‘Been a Racist’: ‘I Have Zero Indication of That’

Potential 2020 Dem candidate and former Virginia Gov Terry McAuliffe appeared on State of the Union with Jake Tapper Sunday to discuss the racist photo purportedly showing current Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam in blackface or a KKK hood. When asked if Northam was racist, McCauliffe said he saw “no indication” of that.

McCauliffe did, though, have a lot of praise for Northam, whom he thinks should resign for the sake of “moving forward.”

In the introductory summary, Tapper pointed out that Northam first apologized for being in the photo, then later said it wasn’t him. Tapper also noted that part Northam’s defense was his recollection of a different time he did wear blackface, then asked McCauliffe whether or not he believes Northam.

“It doesn’t really matter what I believe or what anyone else believes,” said McCauliffe. Northam was McCauliffe’s lieutenant governor, and he referenced that relationship and related achievements the two made, giving credit to Northam. He said that therefore it was tough to have to say,but that Northam has to step down.

“Once that picture with the blackface and klansman came out there is no way you can continue to be the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia,” he said. “We’ve had a horrible and sordid past as it relates to race relations.”

“Let me ask you,” said Tapper. “If it’s not him in the photo, which is what he’s saying, why do you still think he should resign?”

McCauliffe pointed out that at first Northam said it was him. “If it wasn’t him in the photo, he should have said that on Friday.”

“But I do know this. Ralph is a good, moral, decent man. And may have made some mistakes in his past. We all have made mistakes,” said McCauliffe. “Ralph will do the right thing for the commonwealth of Virginia. He will put Virginia first. And I think that will happen relatively soon.”

McCauliffe praised “Ralph’s efforts” again but then said that this controversy would hinder his ability to accomplish the tasks of being governor at the “busiest time.”

“So we just need to put this behind us and move forward,” he said. “And that’s what we have to do.”

After saying that Northam has to make the “moral” choice, he blamed the racist past of the state for the difficulty, and referenced again past achievements by Northam.

“He’s done so many great things,” McCauliffe said of Northam, and in a reference back to his comments about Virginia’s past and the inability to get an agenda accomplished, said, “it’s not about Ralph anymore.”

Tapper then played a clip from the press conference, during which Northam joked about moonwalking and admitted to wearing blackface in a different situation.

“As I don’t need to tell you, governor, there are a lot of people in Virginia and throughout the country who are really hurting because of this racist image. You just saw Gov. Northam smiling, contemplating, showing the press his ability to moonwalk,” said Tapper. “Do you think that Governor Northam understands how serious this is and how much pain he’s caused?”

“I winced when I saw that yesterday,” said McCauliffe, but not because of Northam. “Totally inappropriate question from the reporter. We’re talking about a very, very serious issue.”

After blaming a reporter, regarding Northam he said “he’s just done so many great things for Virginia over the years.”

There was some more praise, and McCauliffe saying that Northam will be remembered for taking the “right, moral” choice by admirably stepping down. Essentially, arguing that resigning over a blackface photo will be be another big achievement for a stellar and unblemished record.

Tapper then got down to the very point of the controversy.

“I know that the Ralph Northam you know, in your words is a good man,” said Tapper. “But — But has he also been a racist?”

“I have zero indication of that,” said McCauliffe after Tapper listed several potential indications. “So I can’t answer it, Jake. I’m telling you. I’m heartbroken. I don’t know how — I mean, I have been, it is — on Friday, I just don’t — I can’t explain to you my feeling, but you know, doesn’t matter how Terry Mcauliffe feels. That photo that was in that yearbook was so offensive to the African American community that I can’t be in their shoes, and we’ve just got to get past this.”

Watch the clip above, courtesy of CNN.

[Featured image via screengrab]

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