Terry McAuliffe Talks About His Book When Asked About Ralph Northam

Former Virginia governor hopes his successor can ‘lean in’ on racism

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) said Sunday he hopes the current governor can use insights from McAuliffe’s book to help recover from his racism scandal.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D.) got the ball rolling on an ongoing series of Virginia scandals when a photo on his yearbook page emerged calling Northam "Coonman" and showing someone in blackface standing with someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood. Northam initially apologized but then denied he he was one of the shrouded figures, and he refused calls to resign while his fellow party leaders became embroiled in their own scandals.

Asked whether he can survive the "near-universal calls" he resign, McAuliffe told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan that "Ralph" needs to "lean in on these very important issues" by taking a few pages from his book.

"I think he's made a decision he's going to stay in, but the way that Ralph survives and brings Virginia back together, he's got to lean in on these very important issues, which I talk about in the book," McAuliffe said.

"He's got the use executive authority as governor," McAuliffe added. "I used executive authority. I took the Confederate flag off the Virginia license plates. I banned the box on any state employment forms."

"Banning the box" refers to preventing employers from asking applicants about their criminal history. Research suggests it harms African Americans’ job prospects, but McAuliffe went on to celebrate his restoration of voting rights to felons. He went on to point out the history of racist interference in voting rights from more than a century ago, shying away from addressing Northam’s own racism scandal that’s ongoing.

"I was able to enfranchise all these people to give them a second chance. This is what our leadership in Virginia needs to do. We need to lean in. We have had a horrible history," McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe said Virginia’s problem is much more general than Northam’s own actions, citing the riot in Charlottesville after an alt-right rally led to a counter protester being killed. Again, his solution was to look at his book to learn how to "go forward."

"Something has gone wrong in our country. I talk in the book about how we got to bring our country back together. We have got to deal with the issues of the past, but we need to go forward," he concluded.

Northam's Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D.) has also refused calls to resign regarding a sexual assault allegation, which he denies. The third person in line for the governorship in Virginia is Attorney General Mark Herring (D.), who is himself caught in a blackface scandal.