RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Ralph Northam may have a politician's dream background, but he's still struggling how to define himself in the age of Trump.

The Democratic nominee in Virginia's closely watched race for governor, Northam is banking heavily on his career as a pediatric neurologist and Army doctor who volunteered for two decades at a children's hospice. It's a strategy that may work, as most polls show Northam with a small but consistent lead over Republican Ed Gillespie.

But Northam has been less sure-footed when it comes to how he'll handle Trump, alternating between presenting himself as a fighter and a pragmatist. That approach has frustrated some Democrats and provided an opening for Republican attacks.

Friends and colleagues say Northam has always been motivated by a genuine desire to help people, not to advance a political career.