"My first intention. was to reach out and apologise", he said, adding that he recognised that people would be offended by the photo.
Northam is in an nearly unsustainable position with three years left in his term.
In the meantime, Democrats are anxious about how this will impact the 2020 elections. The governor has said he will not step down, and a source told CNN that Northam argued in a Cabinet meeting on Monday that he would be labeled a "racist for life" if he accepted the wide-ranging calls for him to step down.
After he spoke, both of Virginia's USA senators said they called Northam to tell him that he must resign, as he had "irrevocably broken the trust Virginians must have in their leaders". His rapid rise, including a stint as lieutenant governor, was powered more by his biography than political charisma or know-how. "He has been a friend to me and has treated my family and me with hospitality and respect", says Virginia's African-American Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who wrote Sunday that he is a descendant of people enslaved in Virginia. He also volunteered as medical director of a children's hospice, caring for dying youngsters and their families.
The share of all Virginia voters who approve of Northam's performance fell from 48 percent before the yearbook controversy to just 29 percent in the new survey, which relied on 291 respondents and was conducted this weekend. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner urged him to resign.
Northam's current racism troubles are being viewed against his earlier characterization of the GOP and his 2017 gubernatorial opponent, Republican Ed Gillespie, as racists.
Northam recently celebrated his first year in office, a year widely viewed as one of the most successful of any recent governor's.
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But now his reputation is largely in tatters, especially after Saturday's news conference, where he did not fully explain why he first admitted to being in the picture and almost played along when a reporter asked if he could still moonwalk. However, Virginians were not aware of Northam's racist past when they elected him to be the head of their state government just 15 months ago.
Former Democratic governor L Douglas Wilder said Mr Northam should be criticised for the photos, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.
Northam said he looks back at his actions with "regret" because he now understands "the harmful legacy of an action like that".
On Sunday, delegate Lamont Bagby, who leads the caucus, declined to discuss on ABC whether impeachment proceedings would be pursued against Northam if he doesn't quit.
In a radio interview, the governor described a hypothetical situation in which an infant who is severely deformed or unable to survive after birth is left to die. Other prominent Democrats - including 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Julian Castro - have been calling on Northam to resign since Friday.
In Norfolk, Melissa Brooks was adamant that Northam should resign.
Additionally, the Virginia senatorial delegation, Sens.
In his news conference, Northam seemed to suggest that appearing in blackface was an accepted part of the culture in 1984 where he grew up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. All 140 state legislative seats are up for election this year and Virginia is the only state where Democrats have a strong chance of flipping control of the state legislature. He said he would revisit his decision not to step down if he thought he was being ineffective, but for now is staying the course.
He said if he had posed for that picture, "I would have remembered that".