Virginia governor refuses to resign over racist photo

Gov. Ralph Northam says he will not step down despite calls from lawmakers asking him to leave office.
5:25 | 02/03/19

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Transcript for Virginia governor refuses to resign over racist photo
Virginia coming out to say he's not stepping down. Just to recap here, on Friday governor Northam admitted he was in this racist yearbook picture from 1984 where you see one person in blackface, and another person in a kkk outfit. He held a news conference to say it wasn't him after all. While denying he was in that picture, he did admit to wearing blackface at another time. Let's go to Zachary kiesch in Richmond where the governor's explanation doesn't appear to be going over very well. Reporter: Good morning, guys. The governor is adamant it was not him and despite calls for his resignation, he says he's not going anywhere. We're just outside the governor's mansion this morning, the site of that remarkable press conference. Virginia governor Ralph Northam walked into a press conference, then walked back his own comments. After saying he was the person in this 1984 medical school yearbook photo, he is now saying after a closer look, it wasn't me. It's not me. Reporter: Northam now claims the picture was on the wrong yearbook page. I believe that I did not wear that costume or attend that party. Stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes I made in the same period of my life. Reporter: The governor acknowledged he did wear blackface, but that was for a dance contest dressing up as Michael Jackson when he was 25 years old. I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that. Reporter: He continued with this anecdote about that night. I had the shoes, I had a glove and I used just a little bit of shoe Polish to put under my -- or on my cheeks and the reason I used a little bit is because I don't know if anybody has tried that, but you cannot get shoe Polish off. Reporter: It turned bizarre at times. At one point, a reporter asking Northam if he can still moonwalk as he had in that 1984 dance contest. The governor considered trying to dance before his wife intervened. My wife says, inappropriate circumstances. Reporter: A long list of politicians from both sides of the aisle have called for him to resign. He just made it worse. The idea that he's going to come out yesterday and say that he was in the picture, today deny it, he is completely tone deaf. Reporter: Overnight, the president weighing in on the growing controversy tweeting, unforgivable. Protesters, including some who voted for him on the promise of bringing people together, demanded he step down. Northam says he was unaware that blackface was hurtful to black folks until later in his life. Do you think as a grown adult that it's problematic that you need to have it explained to you that blackface is offensive? No. I'm not a person of color, and people of color experience different things. It affects them different ways. Reporter: It was a truly unforgettable press conference. Now the governor is suggesting that this incident can be used as a tool for healing, but beyond those photos, there are big questions about a racist nickname that was posted in an undergraduate yearbook. Dan? The governor directly there in Virginia. Zachary, thank you very much. Let's bring in George Stephanopoulos who will be hosting "This week." Good morning. Good morning. So many Democrats are doubling and tripling down on their calls -- Can you name one who hasn't? There are a few who didn't at first, but now even most of them are coming out to say, this guy's got to go. Is there any mechanism to force him out or can he continue to bluster his way through this? I don't see how he can survive this. You have now got both democratic senators from Virginia, the leading African-American -- the Dean of the congressional delegation, Bobby Scott, calling for him to go as well. Democrats universally calling for him to go. If he continues to be defiant, I suppose they're going to start impeachment proceedings, so it will be hard what the grounds given that these are not dealt with as time in office. I don't see any way the governor will survive. He has basically no support right now. The democratic party has unified itself against what happened there, against the governor. What about the democratic party nationally? We're heading into this 2020 presidential campaign. It has already started. You will have a presidential hopeful on your show this morning. What impact does this story have on the campaign as it starts to heat up? They want to make sure it has no impact at all. The Democrats want to be the party of diversity going into the 2020 election. The party that has stood up against white supremacism, and they want to show zero tolerance for any kind of racism. That's why you saw so many Democrats, including every presidential candidate coming out and saying immediately, Northam has to go. George Stephanopoulos, thank you very much. Great to see you on a Sunday morning. I look forward to seeing you. George will have a big show this morning. He'll also interview this man, the newest 2020 hopeful, mayor Pete buttigieg. That's coming up on "This week" on ABC. And tune in on Tuesday where George will lead our political team in the live coverage of the state out of the union and the democratic response. It all starts at 9:00 eastern. George, thank you. Thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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