President Biden, who called for Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s resignation in 2019, praised the disgraced Democrat Friday.
“First off, it goes without saying how much I appreciate your current governor, Ralph Northam, by the way,” Biden said at a rally for Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former governor campaigning to succeed Northam, his former lieutenant governor.
Biden condemned Northam unreservedly in 2019, when a racist photo from his medical school yearbook surfaced. Northam acknowledged that he was in the photograph but refused to say whether he was the person wearing blackface or dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
“There is no place for racism in America. Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately,” Biden tweeted after the photo surfaced.
Biden is not the only politician who flip-flopped on Northam in the wake of the scandal. McAuliffe condemned his former lieutenant governor, calling Northam’s participation in the photo “racist, unacceptable, and inexcusable at any age and any time.”
McAuliffe is running a tight race against Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin and enjoyed a slight lead in a statewide poll taken in July. Democrats are attempting to rally around McAuliffe in the wake of a contentious primary in which several black candidates criticized the former governor and Democratic party chairman for his record on race. McAuliffe has drifted to the left in the wake of the primary. While he ran as a fiscal moderate in the 2013 governor’s race, he has indicated that he would repeal right-to-work laws he used to support and embraced a wider Medicaid expansion.
Biden also explained his endorsement of McAuliffe on liberal grounds. While the president has balked at universal health care proposals in the past because of the massive cost, he welcomed the idea at the Virginia rally.
“Terry knows the work continues—that health care should be right, just not a privilege, folks,” Biden said.