Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Sunday inched closer to a possible presidential run in 2020, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that he’s still deciding but would “like to do it.”
McAuliffe has long been expected to toss his name in the 2020 race. Last month, he said there was a “50 percent” chance he would run.
Asked for an update Sunday, McAuliffe said he’s giving himself until March 31 to make a decision.
“I have been talking to other candidates,” McAuliffe said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’m going through the process.”
“Listen, we had a very successful run as governor of Virginia, bringing people together, building a new economy,” he added. “I’ve said we need a Democrat running for president that has practical, actionable ― can actually get things done ― and who can show results.”
Tapper continued to press McAuliffe on whether he’s leaning one way or another on the matter.
“I’d say, you know, I’d like to do it,” McAuliffe said. “I think we had a great track record in Virginia. … I’m very authentic. I will always tell you whether you like to hear it or not. And I lean in to get things done that we can actually get done.”
McAuliffe left office in January 2018 and was succeeded by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who faces calls for his resignation over a recently resurfaced photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook that featured a person in blackface and another person dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Northam initially apologized Friday for appearing in the photo, though later claimed he was not in the photo during a bizarre press conference on Saturday. He did admit to donning blackface while dressing up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest that same year.
Asked about the controversy Sunday, McAuliffe said Northam should resign, though defended the governor as a “good, moral, decent man.”
“I called Ralph on Friday night ― it was one of the hardest things I had to do, [he] was my lieutenant governor,” McAuliffe said. “Once that picture with the blackface and the klansman came out, there is no way you can continue be the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia. He will put Virginia first. And I think that will happen relatively soon.”
He added, “I can’t understand what’s going on but I do know this: Ralph is a good, moral, decent man and may have made some mistakes in his past. We all have made mistakes. Ralph will do the right thing for the commonwealth of Virginia.”
Still, McAuliffe said he has “zero indication” that Northam has been a racist.
“Ralph was always at my side,” he said. “I’m heartbroken. … It doesn’t matter how Terry McAuliffe feels. That photo that was in that yearbook was so offensive to the African-American community.”
Several high-profile Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have called on Northam to resign. The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement Saturday to “amplify” their call for him to step down.
“The damage that has been done by these revelations is irreparable,” they said. “Our confidence in his ability to govern for the over 8 million Virginians has been eviscerated.”