Obama and Vice President Joe Biden -- followed by members of the public and the media -- walked down Pennsylvania Avenue Friday to Taylor Gourmet Deli, a chain specializing in Philadelphia-style hoagies.
"Part of the reason we're here is we're starving," Obama said. "The other reason we're here is that this establishment is giving out 10 percent off to furloughed [federal workers]. This is an indication of how ordinary Americans are looking out for one another."
Asked what could be done to end the shutdown, which began Tuesday after funding expired for government operations without congressional approval of a stopgap funding bill, Obama said, "Only way to do it is to call a vote."
Asked whether Democrats are winning the debate, the president said "no one is winning" as long as federal workers are furloughed.
The question was a reference to a Wall Street Journal article that quoted a senior White House official it did not identify as saying "we are winning," and that the duration of the shutdown doesn't matter "because what matters is the end result."
Speaking with reporters Friday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "This isn't some damn game."
"The American people don't want their government shut down and neither do I," Boehner said. "All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness -- reopen the government and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare."
"I'm happy to have negotiations," Obama said Friday, "but we can't do it with a gun held to the head of the American people."