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Biden praises Virginia governor Ralph Northam as ‘one of the best’ two years after blackface photo 

Biden praises Virginia governor Ralph Northam as ‘one of the best’ on COVID-19 two years after demanding his resignation over blackface photo

  • President Biden and the first lady visited a climbing center in Alexandria, VA
  • Biden praised Gov. Northam as ‘one of the best governors’ in tackling COVID-19
  • The governor faced demands for his resignation in 2019 when a yearbook photo surfaced of a man in blackface
  • Northam apologized but then backtracked, denying that he was in the photo
  • Biden said 10 states had reached his goal of delivering at least one vaccine dose to 70% of the population
  • And he joked that he planned to use kettlebells to improve his grip so that he could take on 60ft climbing wall 

Two years after demanding the resignation of the Virginia governor over a blackface photograph, President Biden praised Ralph Northam as ‘one of the best’ in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden delivered an update on progress in tackling the coronavirus during a visit to Alexandria Friday.

‘I want to thank you for your welcome to the Commonwealth,’ he said after being introduced by Northam.

‘And I want to thank you for all you’re doing to help win the fight against COVID. 

‘You’re one of the best governors in the country in taking this on.’

President Biden thanked Gov. Northam for his welcome to Virginia, during a visit to a climbing center in Alexandria, and called him ‘one of the best’ two years after demanding his resignation over a blackface photograph

Biden joked that he planned to tackle a 60ft climbing wall during his visit but then admitted that he need to work on his finger strength

Biden joked that he planned to tackle a 60ft climbing wall during his visit but then admitted that he need to work on his finger strength

Northam initially apologized for appearing in a costume that was 'clearly racist and offensive' but later denied being in the 1984 medical school yearbook photograph. An investigation proved inconclusive

Northam initially apologized for appearing in a costume that was ‘clearly racist and offensive’ but later denied being in the 1984 medical school yearbook photograph. An investigation proved inconclusive

Such a tribute would have been unthinkable in 2019, when Northam faced demands for his resignation.

The governor initially apologized when a photo in his medical school yearbook emerged showing a man dressed in blackface and another person wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.

But he quickly reversed course, saying he did not believe he was the person shown in the photograph.

Biden was one of many senior Democrats who demanded Northam's resignation

Biden was one of many senior Democrats who demanded Northam’s resignation

Biden was among those who condemned the Democratic governor.

‘There is no place for racism in America.

‘Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now,’ he wrote on Twitter, referring to the lieutenant governor.

An investigation failed to find the identity of the person pictured and Northam rode out the storm.

He was on hand Friday to welcome Biden and the first lady to the Sportrock Climbing Center, an 18,000 square foot space of climbing walls, yoga studios and a gym.

The visit coincided with the lifting of social distancing measures and capacity limits on Friday. 

Northam had already ended Virginia’s indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated people on May 15.  

Biden outlined progress in tackling the coronavirus, saying 10 states had now reached his target of getting at least one shot to 70% of their populations by July 4. 

The first lady joined President Biden at the Sportrock Climbing Center in Virginia Friday, where he delivered an update on the nation's progress in tackling COVID-19

The first lady joined President Biden at the Sportrock Climbing Center in Virginia Friday, where he delivered an update on the nation’s progress in tackling COVID-19

Biden was welcomed by Gov. Ralph Northam

Biden was welcomed by Gov. Ralph Northam

‘Let’s remember where we were 129 days ago, when I took office, we were averaging 184,000 cases per day nationwide. Here in Virginia, as the governor pointed out of schools were close Mainstreet had gone quiet here and in cities all across America,’ he said.

‘So many joys of life had been halted by a long dark winter.’

Now the country is seeing fewer than 22,000 cases a day and deaths have dropped by 85%, he added.

‘And we’re greeting one another with smiles with our masks off, and I’m about to do this 60 foot wall,’ he said with a broad grin as he pointed to the climbing cliff in front of him.

A young audience of school students giggled at his joke.

‘But I tell you what, I work out every morning, but I said I have trouble holding those grips,’ he continued.

‘And the young man said to me he said the way to work your hands, is to get a kettlebell, a light one, and just put it under your fingers and work it that way. Tonight I’m trying.’

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