Amid the growing calls for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation, former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman indicated critics were making knee-jerk decisions.
“I think there’s a rush to judgment that is unfair to him,” Lieberman told CNN on Monday. Lieberman said he didn’t yet think that Northam should resign, citing the Virginia governor’s denial.
As IJR previously reported, Northam faced an onslaught of criticism after a yearbook photo surfaced showing two men dressed in blackface and a Ku Klux Klan outfit.
Although many Democrats and left-leaning organizations called for Northam’s resignation, he refused and retracted his initial admission that he was one of the men in the photo.
Northam said he didn’t remember being in that particular photo and that the first time he saw it was on Friday. He added, however, that he did darken his skin for a dance contest around that same time in which he dressed up as Michael Jackson.
While appearing on CNN, Lieberman said that critics should consider Northam’s claim that he wasn’t in the picture and ask whether he knew the picture was on his personal yearbook page. Lieberman added that people should judge Northam based on the “context of his whole life.”
Watch Lieberman’s interview below:
Fmr. Independent Sen. @JoeLieberman tells @jimsciutto "there's a rush to judgement" around Gov. Northam, adding that he needs to explain if he knew about the picture and "be judged in the context of his whole life" https://t.co/QIVfUHvDRl pic.twitter.com/VpWIVUuyJT
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) February 4, 2019
His comments echoed those of Virginia Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, who indicated it was unfair to punish someone for what they did in college.
“No one in the general assembly […] would like their college conduct examined,” Saslaw said. “His life since then has been anything but. It’s been a life of helping people, and many times for free.”
Lieberman said that recognizing how “imperfect” he was, he felt the need to show “mercy” to others as God did to him.
“I think he deserves a chance to prove what really is his essence — not to rush him out of office and unfortunately, for political reasons,” he asserted.
Lieberman’s comments came on the same day that former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe appeared on CNN and criticized Northam over another controversy he faced surrounding abortion legislation in his state.
“I think Ralph misspoke on that,” he said in reference to Northam’s comments that seemed to condone letting infants with deformities die after birth. McAuliffe was also one of the many Democrats who called for Northam’s resignation after the controversial yearbook photo surfaced.