Paul Ryan’s relation with black ‘Democrat girlfriend’ opened his eyes to racism

Deneeta Pope said she met Ryan through friends at Miami University some 20 years ago.

Last Updated: Aug 31, 2012, 19:34 PM IST

Washington: The cheerleader who Republican vice president candidate Paul Ryan dated in college and helped forge his uncompromising opposition to racism, said that she may not be a Republican, but still supports her ‘nice guy’ old friend.

Deneeta Pope said she met Ryan through friends at Miami University some 20 years ago. “It’s really hard to remember what happened... He was two years older than me. We dated for a short time and we hung out at a couple of parties together,” Pope, 40, said.

Ryan always described himself as a ``big, big fan`` of Martin Luther King and is a staunch advocate of civil rights. Speaking exclusively to Mail Online, but Pope, an IT specialist and realtor living in Chicago, denied that they experienced any racism as a couple.

According to the Daily Mail, Pope also said that their relationship was not very serious. “We weren`t in love. It was a college relationship,” she said. Michael Steel, campaign spokesman for Ryan, confirmed to MailOnline that ‘Mr Ryan dated Ms Pope in college’ in the 1990s. In a 2005 interview, Mitt Romney’s future running mate Ryan 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, My college sweetheart was black,” he had said.
“I just experienced some ugly comments, some racist views from people who I thought were friends of mine,” Ryan said. Pope, a registered Democrat since at least 2008, in 2009, she made three donations of USD 324 each to President Barack Obama`s inaugural fund.

“I am indeed a Democrat. That’s no secret. But although I have a different political association to Paul, I support him and wish him continued success,” she said.

Although Ryan is determined to oust President Barack Obama from the White House, he has drawn attention to the historic significance of his being the first black US president, the report said.