(CNN) – Rep. Paul Ryan's recent comments about men in inner cities not valuing the “culture of work” have continued to draw outrage - this time from one of his Wisconsin constituents.
At town-hall style meeting on Wednesday, an African-American man identified by NBC as Alfonso Gardner took the Republican congressman to task for his remarks.
"The bottom line is this: your statement wasn't true. That's a code word for 'black,'" Gardner said to Ryan.
Ryan immediately pushed back, saying, "There was nothing whatsoever about race in my comments at all. It had nothing to do with race."
In radio interview last week, Ryan told conservative host Bill Bennett that there is a “tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”
Ryan's controversial statement sparked heated opposition from other lawmakers in Washington. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, called the remarks "a thinly veiled racial attack."
Following the congressional uproar, Ryan sought to clarify his comments. He called his words "inarticulate" and insisted he was not singling out a specific race but rather "society as a whole."
Ryan agreed to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus after its members deemed his remarks "highly offensive".
But Gardner didn't buy Ryan's clarification.
"You said what you meant," the Wisconsinite said. "There are people in the inner-city who are white, Hispanic, who are Armenians, Danish - all types."
"And everybody works," he continued. “You got here in a car or a truck or something. Somebody from the inner city helped make that."
"This is not a race thing. It's just a poor thing. Poverty knows no racial boundaries," Ryan responded, underscoring his belief that America's social welfare programs needs to be rethought.
Ryan, the Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, is considering launching a bid for the White House in 2016. Over the last year and a half he has become more deeply involved in the issue of poverty, releasing a report earlier this month on the inefficiency of federal welfare programs.
The heated exchange between Ryan and his constituent came during one of the congressman's listening and learning tours of low-income neighborhoods.
Some of the issues Ryan has discussed in his push against poverty overlap with those of President Barack Obama's initiative "My Brother's Keeper,” which is aimed at helping minority young men and boys.
"No excuses. Government, and private sector, and philanthropy, and all the faith communities, we all have a responsibility to help provide you the tools you need," the President said at an announcement ceremony for the program last month. "But you've got responsibilities too."
CNN's Leigh Ann Caldwell contributed to this report.