Ryan's poverty remarks distract from policy push

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rep. Paul Ryan is making poverty a signature issue as he tries to broaden his appeal ahead of a possible presidential run in 2016. But he's had to defend himself and his message against allegations of racism.

At issue are comments the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate made last week, saying "we have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working." Ryan now says he was inarticulate about the point he was trying to make.

That hasn't stopped Democrats from criticizing him. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., called Ryan's comment a "thinly veiled racial attack."

The stir highlights a potential peril for Ryan, stepped on his own policy push, and illustrates Republicans' continued struggles to connect with minority voters.

AP-WF-03-22-14 1458GMT

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