Obama: I’m not budging but here's a hint

US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington DC 8 October 2013 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Did Obama suggest a way out for Republicans or was it a throwaway line?

President Barack Obama is playing hardball, but there was one throwaway line that suggested a way forward, a very slight concession.

In his news conference he repeatedly accused Republicans in the House of Representatives of "demanding ransom", "extortion" and "hostage-taking".

He also kept saying that he would talk to anyone about anything - but not until the shutdown was lifted and there was agreement on the debt ceiling.

"Stop the excuses - take the vote - end the shutdown today," he said.

He also said he understood why it was difficult for Republicans to vote to lift the debt ceiling - it's a lousy name that suggested the debt itself was being increased.

There are no more rabbits in the hat, Mr Obama said. If it didn't happen there would be economic chaos.

But the barest glimmer of a suggestion came when he said that the Republicans could vote to lift the threat for the period that it took to negotiate.

That was pretty much a throwaway line, but it could be a way forward for some.

But not others. One conservative strategist I spoke to told me his side thought that breaching the debt ceiling would not be a disaster and they would be trying hard to get that line out.

While Mr Obama noted "the usual messy process of American democracy", he said twice he was taking a stand now for future presidents who could not be expected to choose between "world-wide catastrophe and making concessions to one faction of one party of one House".

Very near the end he said: "I'm not budging."

The president has been so clear, so often, that he cannot blink. But he has offered a way out if the Republicans step back from the brink.

Within the hour, Republican House Speaker John Boehner had rejected the president's suggestion, calling it a demand for unconditional surrender.

He said they needed something in return. I know that sounds like a pretty firm rejection, but I wonder.

He didn't mention Obamacare, and only talked about the cost of government.

It may be a long way from resolution but the two men are engaging in negotiations of a sort, even if it is in public via megaphone.