With the government shutdown in its fourth day, President Obama walked to lunch on Friday — and disavowed a comment from an anonymous staff member who claimed the administration is "winning" the political battle over the government shutdown.
"There is no winning" when people are not at work and being paid, Obama told reporters while getting some take-out in the Taylor Gourmet shop near the White House.
"Nobody's winning," Obama said of the shutdown. "We should get this over with as soon as possible."
The president was responding to a quote in The Wall Street Journal from an unnamed "senior administration official" who said: "We are winning ... It doesn't really matter to us' how long the shutdown lasts 'because what matters is the end result.'"
Obama also responded to criticism from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, saying, again the shutdown would end if the speaker allows a vote on a new spending plan that includes no health care restrictions.
"The shutdown could be over today," Obama said. "We know there are the votes."
The Republican-run House has passed spending bills that include a one-year delay of part of the new health care bill, a provision Obama says is unacceptable.
"I'm happy to have negotiations," Obama said the sandwich shop, "but we can't do it with a gun held to the head of the American people."
During a news conference Friday, Boehner criticized Obama's no-negotiation stance: "You know, when we have a crisis like we're in the middle of this week, the American people expect their leaders to sit down and try to resolve their differences."
The presidential lunch party, including Vice President Biden, Secret Service agents, and a press pool, dined near the White House at Taylor Gourmet, which, like many local eateries, is offering a discount for furloughed federal workers.
As he left the White House, Obama told reporters: "I'm going to get something to eat ... I decided to take a walk."
Taylor Gourmet advertises "a 10% discount, career counseling, and a cookie" for furloughed workers — though Obama and Biden wouldn't be eligible because they are still on the job.
Some officials did get cookies, however, including Obama and Biden, who wore his trademark aviator sunglasses during the walk over.
Obama got his cookie after the vice president declined to share: "It's one package, man. I'm not giving you my cookie."
Biden offered to pay for the meal, but Obama said he'd pick up the tab.
"OK," Biden said.
The discount is an indication of how ordinary Americans are looking out for one another," Obama said.
While placing his sandwich order, Obama said: "I'll get wheat bread -- I can tell Michelle I'm eating healthy."
Obama closed him impromptu news conference by saying: "Now, I'm going to order."
Obama received some cheers and shout-outs during his walk, including "hang tough Mr President," and "you're doing the right thing."
Obama also ate at Taylor Gourmet in 2012 — and the place has always been frequented by Boehner.
"Common ground," tweeted Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. "John Boehner really likes Taylor Gourmet."