WASHINGTON Oct 4 President Barack Obama and
Vice President Joe Biden took an unusual stroll to a sandwich
shop down the street from the White House on Friday, a photo
opportunity designed to show their solidarity for workers laid
off due to a government shutdown.
Obama also seized the opportunity to respond to an
embarrassing quote from an unnamed White House official that
Republicans have used to their advantage in the battle over who
is to blame for hundreds of thousands of people going without
Obama has called the budget impasse a "Republican shutdown"
and has sought to pin the blame for it firmly on House Speaker
But on Friday, the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed
Obama administration official as saying, "We are winning ... It
doesn't really matter to us" how long the shutdown lasts
"because what matters is the end result."
Before buying the vice-president a salami sandwich from
Taylor Gourmet, packed with a lunch-time crowd of surprised
tourists and office workers, Obama responded to a shouted
question from a reporter about the "winning" quote.
"There's no winning when families don't have certainty over
whether they're going to get paid or not," Obama said.
"As long as they're off the job, nobody's winning," Obama
It was Obama's fifth public appearance this week to press
his point that Republicans should sign off on a Senate-passed
stop-gap funding bill to restart the government.
On Monday he spoke about the looming shutdown to reporters
in the Oval Office and later in the White House briefing room.
The next day when the government closed down, he gave a
speech in the Rose Garden. On Thursday, he traveled just outside
the Beltway to a cement plant to give a fiery campaign-style
speech mocking an Indiana Republican lawmaker for saying of the
budget impasse "we have to get something out of this."
The lawmaker, Marlin Stutzman, told the Washington Examiner
that "We're not going to be disrespected ... We have to get
something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."
Stutzman later sought to clarify his remarks, saying he
"carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate."
On Friday, it was Obama's turn to explain the damaging
"winning" quote, shortly after Boehner held a press conference
to complain that Obama will not negotiate.
"This isn't some damn game!" Boehner said.
Hundreds of delighted tourists and unfurloughed government
workers showed nothing but delight that they had run into Obama
and Biden (and their security entourage) walking down the
"Stay strong, Mr. President!" one man yelled. "Hang tough!"
The restaurant was one of many American establishments
offering so-called "furlough freebies" to government workers -
in this case, 10 percent off sandwiches.
"That's an indication of how ordinary Americans look after
each other," Obama said, saying the shutdown would end if
Boehner allows a vote on the Senate funding bill - a vote that
Democrats argue would pass.
"Reopen the government," Obama said. "Take your cues from
folks like these."