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The relationship and the backlash he suffered from his so-called friends were a formative experience in the political evolution of the Republican vice-presidential pick who described himself as a 'big, big fan' of Martin Luther King and is a staunch advocate of civil rights.
Today Mail Online reveals the woman whose romantic attachment led Ryan, who electrified the Republican convention in Tampa with his speech on Wednesday night, to experience racism first hand.
The Republican vice-presidential candidate dated Deneeta Pope, now 40 and a realtor living in Chicago, after they met at Miami University, Ohio in the early 1990s. Michael Steel, campaign spokesman for Ryan, today told MailOnline: 'Mr Ryan dated Ms Pope in college.'
In a 2005 interview, Mitt Romney’s future running mate said that he had been confronted with racism personally, because he had dated an African- American and also had a brother with a black wife. ‘I have a sister-in-law who’s African American,’ he told Milwaukee Magazine.
‘My college sweetheart was black,' he added.
‘I just experienced some ugly comments, some racist views from people who I thought were friends of mine.'