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Calls For Virginia Gov. Northam To Resign After Racist Photo Emerges


Those photos of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in racist garb emerged more than a year after he defeated the Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie. We are going to turn now to a Republican political consultant who has provided opposition research for targeting Democratic candidates in Virginia. Shermichael Singleton joins us. Mr. Singleton, thanks so much for being with us.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON: Hi, Scott. Good morning. Thanks for having me.

SIMON: How did you miss this?

SINGLETON: (Laughter) You know, I did opposition research actually back in 2014, if you remember when Republicans took back the House by a large majority. And that was actually when Ed Gillespie was running for Senate against Mark Warner at the time. So I actually have some experience working with Mr. Gillespie, but it is a bit shocking that no one in the opposition field found this a year ago.

SIMON: Should Governor Northam resign?

SINGLETON: Oh, absolutely, Scott. I mean, I think on the heels of Black History Month just starting yesterday, I think these types of things at this point in time are just so repugnant. You have to sort of resign to not be a distraction. And even if I was advising him, it would probably be pretty clear to me that that's ultimately what's going to have to happen.

SIMON: But Mr. Singleton, I have to ask you - people have been asking Republicans today - look; there's a Republican president in the White House who said there were good people on both sides of that march of bigots in Charlottesville when you had the people - the guys in khakis chanting blood and soil, the old Nazi slogan. He said there were good people on both sides. Is it disingenuous for Republicans now to say, oh, my gosh, this med school photo is so shocking, this Democrat should resign?

SINGLETON: Oh, of course, it's disingenuous. You're not going to get me to tell a half-truth here. I think the truth there is no lie. But with that said, just because Republicans are negligent in their willingness to be honest and critical with racism and bigotry within their own flanks does not mean Democrats, or the rest of the country, for that matter, should ignore it if it's coming from someone who happens to be a Democrat any more than they should for someone who happens to be a Republican regardless of the leaders within either party. I think, we as a nation, as a society, have to dictate the type of expectations we have for our political leaders and the type of society we seek to have even if they are negligent in their willingness or ability to do so.

SIMON: I know this is both hypothetical and speculative, but - I don't know - if 10 years ago had Governor Northam come out and said, look; there's this terrible photo from when I was in med school, let me try and explain it, I think I've lived a life that is much better than what that photo indicates, could he have run for office?

SINGLETON: You know, I think it's possible. I mean, 10 years ago, we were in a different place than we are now, unfortunately. I think it probably would have been possible considering the history of a state like Virginia. But I would just say this - I think all societies grow, right? Modernity means progress. And at some point, you have to change the types of standards that you had in order to prove society for all people. And fortunately, we're at a place now where we're saying we're just not willing to accept hatred in any form. Whether it's racism or sexism or classism, we're just not willing to accept it. And that's the type of society we should continue to move towards.

SIMON: Shermichael Singleton, a Republican political consultant, thanks so much, sir.

SINGLETON: Thanks so much, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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