President Obama and vice president Joe Biden -- in his signature Rayban shades -- walked out of the White House Friday to a local sandwich shop -- to press House Republicans to put an end to the government shutdown.
The pair -- in shirtsleeves, no jackets -- got a few cheers, claps and reassurances as they walked along Pennsylvania Avenue, including a "Hang tough, Mr. President" and "You're doing the right thing."
Obama quipped that the pair was there because "we're starving," but went on to say that the shop, Taylor Gourmet, was giving 10 percent discounts to furloughed employees.
Obama called it an indication of how ordinary Americans are looking out for one another, and declared that "right now" the House could end the shutdown with a vote.
"I'm happy to have negotiations but we can't do it with a gun held to the head of the American people," Obama said.
Asked by reporters as to whether he was "winning" -- a reference to an anonymous senior administration official quote in a Wall Street Journal story, Obama stopped to answer, saying "there's no winning" and "no one is winning" as long as people aren't on the job.
Republicans seized on the anonymous remarks to question Obama's motives: "Now the White House is confirming -- they don't care how long the shutdown lasts because they 'are winning,'" the Republican National Committee said in an e-mail.
Asked how long the shutdown might last and if he was close to a deal, Obama said: "Only way to do it is to call a vote."