VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wasted little time getting to Virginia Beach after a gunman killed a dozen people in a city office building, the first major test of his leadership since a blackface scandal almost forced him from office four months ago.

The governor, who is also a pediatric neurologist, worked to comfort victims of Friday's shooting and their families, while helping coordinate the massive government response.

Northam discussed the shooting with President Donald Trump in a private phone call, stood shoulder to shoulder with other elected officials at a news conference and pressed for tighter gun control to national audiences.

The subject of widespread mockery after the racist photo from his medical school yearbook surfaced, the Democratic governor appears determined to project that he's up to the task.

"Actions speak a lot louder than words. And I will have the leadership that's needed," Northam said in an interview with NPR after the shooting, while discussing potential plans to push for increased gun regulations.

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