VA Governor meets with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, clarifies controversial remarks on abortion

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is on Capitol Hill Thursday – hoping to set aside controversies he and top Virginia Democrats faced earlier this year. Washington Correspondent Alana Austin caught up with him in DC about Thursday’s meeting with the Virginia Congressional delegation.

Governor Ralph Northam (D) speaks with the press after visiting the Virginia Congressional delegation on Capitol Hill. This is his first major meeting with members since scandals earlier in the year. (Source: GrayDC)

This is the first time Democratic Governor Ralph Northam met with Virginia lawmakers in Congress since scandal disrupted his office. He says he was able to make progress even though many of them just months ago called for him to resign.

“I’ve had conversations with them prior to today,” said the Governor

A recent investigation could not determine whether Northam posed in a decades-old medical school yearbook photo of one person wearing blackface and another in a KKK robe. In the initial firestorm of controversy, Northam apologized for the photo, but later denied any involvement. Northam now looks to turn the page on that controversy.

“Today was all about moving Virginia forward,” said Northam.

The Virginia Governor says Thursday’s meeting with Virginia members was an opportunity to push for more federal support for rural broadband access, I-81 and preparing for the 2020 Census.

While reporters weren’t allowed inside the briefing room, the Governor took a few minutes afterward to speak with the press. We asked him to clarify comments he made in DC earlier this year supporting a bill that would have lifted restrictions on late-term abortion.

Alana: “In recent months since your comment on WTOP about this issue, have your views changed at all? I mean, where do you want to see things go?”
Northam: “Yeah – my comments were taken out of context. You know, I’m a pediatric neurologist. I have taken care of children for over 30 years, so you know I just don’t think it was good that people interpreted what I said. I was asked a specific question. I answered it from a medical point of view, but certainly that’s a discussion that we’ll continue to have. Thank you all very much.”

The Democratic Party of Virginia tells us they’re setting aside differences with the Governor and putting their energy into winning back control of the General Assembly this November. In the aftermath of the yearbook scandal, party leaders initially called on the Governor to step down.

The full statement from party spokesman Jake Rubenstein says, “Virginia Democrats have a little over 4 months to change the course of history in the Commonwealth and flip the General Assembly. Virginians’ Healthcare, safety from gun violence, opportunity for all to make a living wage, and so much more is at stake. It is all hands on deck.”

Meantime, the Republican Party of Virginia renews its call for Northam to resign. It said in a statement to Gray Television, “I hope Ralph Northam was in DC to tell the Virginia delegation of his plans to immediately resign. Blackface and infanticide are not Virginia values. Ralph Northam does not represent Virginians.”

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