Published: Aug 18, 2010 5:07 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 18, 2010 2:07 PM EDT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - President Barack Obama used the homey backdrop of a middle-class Ohio family's backyard Wednesday to try to show voters he shares their concerns about the economy, health care and Social Security.

Jacket off and sleeves rolled up, Obama took questions from the Weithman family and a small group of their neighbors arrayed around picnic tables and lawn chairs. His message was familiar: The economy needs more work but it's getting better.

"A lot of it is like recovering from an illness," the president said. "You get a little bit stronger each day."

The event came toward the end of a three-day swing that included glitzy, million-dollar fundraisers. Obama's focus here was more on everyday struggles. He talked privately to Joe and Rhonda Weithman and their two children, 11-year-old Josh and 9-year-old Rachel, around their kitchen table before broadening the conversation in the backyard to include families from the neighborhood.

Like any business owner, teacher or factory worker who is chosen to meet with the president, the Weithman family has a story Obama wants to tell. The White House says Joe Weithman is a co-owner of an architectural firm that has seen its business pick up because of government infrastructure spending. Rhonda Weithman lost her job last year but was able to keep her health insurance under aid provided through the economic stimulus law that the Democratic-led Congress approved.