Image: President Barack Obama
Carolyn Kaster  /  AP
President Barack Obama greets people waiting on the tarmac after arriving at the Port Columbus International Airport, in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday.
updated 8/18/2010 10:03:13 AM ET 2010-08-18T14:03:13

Pivoting from million-dollar fundraisers to more mainstream struggles, President Barack Obama is sitting down at the kitchen table of an Ohio family for a chat about the economy and a chance to promote his ideas.

In the most intimate setting of his three-day campaign trip around the nation, Obama was to meet Wednesday with Joe and Rhonda Weithman and their two children, 11-year-old Josh and 9-year-old Rachel. The president will then broaden the conversation in the backyard to include families from the neighborhood in what is being billed as a casual town hall.

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.

With the nation's unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent, Americans are increasingly frustrated with the progress Obama has made on the economy. Just 41 percent of those surveyed in a new Associated Press-GfK poll approve of the president's handling of the economy, down from 44 percent in April. And 61 percent say the economy has gotten worse or stayed the same on Obama's watch.

Still, three-quarters also say it's unrealistic to expect noticeable economic improvements in the first 18 months of the president's term.

Obama's attempts to draw attention to what his administration has done to fix a flagging economy, plus what he still wants Congress to pass, come against the backdrop of a bitterly partisan midterm election season. He has spent the week promoting his message that voters should keep Democrats in power over Republicans that he claims lack any positive ideas.

All 435 House seats, one-third of the Senate and most governors' jobs are on the ballot in November.

The political campaigning also continues Wednesday for the president.

Obama will speak at a fundraiser for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat trying to keep his job against a tough challenge by former Republican Rep. John Kasich. The president then will go to Miami to raise cash for Florida Democrats.

Already this week, the president's stops have included a Los Angeles fundraiser that raised $1 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Monday, and two events in Seattle that raised $1.3 million for Sen. Patty Murray and Washington Democrats on Tuesday.

Obama's aides say he takes seriously the job of giving personal attention to candidates and helping them make the case about the upcoming election.

The results are vital for him too, as Obama needs Democrats to retain their congressional majorities if he is to keep pressing an agenda that has received virtually no Republican support.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Obama hits the road to help Dems

  1. Closed captioning of: Obama hits the road to help Dems

    >> with president obama on the road again today, trying to help democrats. nbc's chief white house correspondent chuck todd is in columbus, ohio. chuck, good morning.

    >> reporter: good morning, natalie. well, it's day three of the president's cross country fund-raising and campaign tour. while he saw some of the friendliest crowds he's seen yet in seattle the question looms, do the stops help or hinder his fellow democrats?

    >> you remember our slogan during the campaign "yes, we can"? their slogan is "no, we can't".

    >> reporter: the president was clearly testing new lines of attack against republicans.

    >> i bring this stuff up not to relitigate the past. i just don't want to relive the past.

    >> reporter: outside a fund-raiser for embattled democratic senator patty murray a crowd gathered angry about obama administration policy, while inside the president appear to acknowledge that his position on the mosque near ground zero is not popular.

    >> i have pollsters. [ laughter ]

    >> i know when things don't poll well. but i wasn't sent to washington -- you did not send me to the oval office to just do what was popular. you sent me there to do what was right.

    >> reporter: the latest nbc news wall street journal poll shows a growing disconnect between obama and the public and there is debate about how helpful he can be to candidates. dino rossi see it is president as a help to his campaign. and it cuts both ways. sarah palin is being used to raise money for democrats and fire up their base. this week the abortion rights women's group emily's list unveiled a new campaign for candidates she refers to asthma ma grizzlies.

    >> sarah palin , you don't speak for us.

    >> reporter: aids tell me, look, the president may not be the biggest asset to woo voters to the polls but he is going to be a huge fund-raising asset. worst case scenario , you will see him raising money constantly between now and november.

    >> that will be a lot of dollars. chuck todd , thanks


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