PUBLISHED: 07:16 EST, 23 August 2012 | UPDATED: 08:56 EST, 23 August 2012
Claims: Paul Ryan, 42, allegedly told a Milwaukee Magazine that he had once dated a black girl and had an ‘African American sister-in-law’
Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan had a ‘black childhood sweetheart’, it has emerged.
A tweet by CNN’s Peter Hamby earlier this week revealed that Ryan, 42, had told a Milwaukee Magazine that he’d once dated a black girl and had an ‘African American sister-in-law.’
In the 2005 interview in Milwaukeemag.com Ryan said: ‘I have a sister-in-law who is an African American. My college sweetheart was black.’
The journalist who did the original interview with Ryan, Erik Gunn, told Mail Online today: ‘I spoke to him some time ago, but I reported what he said at the time.’
Ryan’s communication Director Kevin Seifart, also confirmed to Mail Online that the comments made by Ryan about his then girlfriend were true.
The revelation has caused debate on the internet over whether the fact that Mitt Romney’s running mate dated a black woman even matters at all.
But a new NBC News/Wall Street journal poll shows that Mitt Romney’s problems with black voters are even worse than first thought.
The Republican candidate is capturing zero per cent of the African American vote, compared to the sustained popularity of President Obama among black voters.
Meanwhile, some of Ryan’s friends and professors who knew him as a student at Miami University in Ohio in 1988, no one can seem to remember him stepping out with a black girl, pointing to a romance that occurred in the days before he headed to college.
A gifted student, Ryan studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science, graduating in 1992.
One of Ryan’s fraternity brother’s, Gatewood Atwood, 42, from Kentucky, met Ryan in the spring of 1989 when the pair pledged for Delta Tau Delta.
The two were roommates during their sophomore year.
Model student: Ryan’s yearbook picture from the Delta Tau Delta house at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he graduated in 1992
College days: Ryan (front, third from left) poses for a photograph with other members of Delta Tau Delta. It was there that he claimed to have had a black girlfriend
He told MailOnline: ‘I don’t recall that [he ever dated a black woman.] It certainly doesn’t ring a bell. I don’t think he has anything against black people in any way shape or form so I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t have dated a woman like that. He is a great guy. But I don’t know that he actually did.’
Born into a catholic family in Janesville, Wisconsin, his parents Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Ryan and Paul M. Ryan, encouraged their children to get a good education.
Paul D Ryan was the youngest of four children, Tobin, Janet, and Stan, and was nicknamed P.D. after his initials.
Concerns: In the week since Mitt Romney chose vice-presidential running mate Paul Ryan (right), there have been fears that the young Wisconsin congressman would not appeal to African-American voters
At 16, the future Vice Presidential hopeful for the GOP had a job at McDonalds. But his carefree teenage years were cut short when he found his father dead from a heart attack, according to his older brother Tobin.
Tobin, 47, says his father’s death made Ryan more serious and this is why he later threw himself into his studies, and little else.
One of Ryan’s most outspoken professors at Miami, Professor William Hart is credited with helping Ryan to shape his libertarian views on economics.
Hart told Mail Online he also couldn’t remember him having a black girlfriend in those days.
In April 2000, Ryan proposed to his girlfriend Janna Little, and later that year, the pair married and had three children, Liza, Charlie and Sam.