"Those jobs are going to Mexico," McMahon said. Teamsters union President James Hoffa held a rally for Obama on April 9 outside the soon-to-be-shuttered candy plant's gates.
Meanwhile, the face of the community is changing: The population of Berks County, where Reading is located, is nearly 13% Hispanic, compared with 4.2% statewide.
In 1990, Hispanics made up 5% of the population in Berks and 2% of Pennsylvania's population. McMahon has welcomed the new population, and messages on City Hall answering machines are now in English and Spanish.
Not everyone feels that way about their new neighbors. In Hazleton, about an hour's drive northeast, Mayor Lou Barletta, a Republican, won re-election last year with 90% of the vote after launching a crusade against what he said was a crime wave spawned by illegal immigrants.
In York, Brenner said he got in hot water with his City Council when he tried to push a resolution supporting immigrants.
Last week, in automated calls made on Obama's behalf, Brenner said the senator "got it right" when he told a San Francisco fundraiser that some in Pennsylvania's struggling small towns "get bitter" and "cling to guns or religion or anti-pathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Though his political opponents quickly pounced — Clinton and McCain said Obama's comments were elitist — some Pennsylvania voters disagreed.
When Obama told a Pittsburgh forum on the future of manufacturing that he'd been getting flak for describing Pennsylvania workers as "bitter," one of the many steelworkers in the audience yelled: "We are!"
Still, there were some in the largely Democratic crowd who say they aren't impressed with Obama.
Felice Di Pietrantonio, a retired steelworker, says he's for Clinton because "it's time for a woman. They couldn't screw it up any worse than these men."
If Obama wins the nomination, he says, "I'd vote for a Republican for the first time in my life."
Such sentiments worry Jackie Mullins, a retired steelworker who is wavering between Clinton and Obama. She likes both but doesn't like the way they've been going after each other.
"In the end," Mullins says, "they are going to have to work together."