Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says the government has a role to play in helping communities like Newton “rebuild” after a major employer closes up shop.

Maytag operations in Newton are scheduled to shut down this year.

During a town hall meeting in Newton Monday afternoon, Obama said companies that move their assembly lines or service centers to other countries should lose federal tax breaks. “We don’t give tax breaks to companies that are moving overseas,” Obama said, as the crowd began applauding. “Let’s save our tax breaks for the companies that are investing right here in the United States. That’s common sense.”

Obama said he believes in trade, but not without looking out for the interests of workers, making sure their pensions and health care benefits are protected. “When you have somebody who’s worked 20, 30 years and suddenly they have the rug pulled out from under ’em and they’re having to figure out not just what to do to find a job that pays a similar wage but also they’ve lost their health care, they’re maybe lost their pension, they have to get a job at the local fast food joint paying $7 (or) $8 an hour, there’s something fundamentally unjust and unfair about it,” Obama said.

Obama also touted his health care reform proposal, which he says would help workers who lose their jobs by ensuring they remain covered while they look for work.

In other campaign news, Obama told the Des Moines Register’s Editorial Board it was “stupid” for his campaign to try to raise questions about rival Hillary Clinton’s ties to India. Obama told the newspaper he had not seen the research his campaign compiled on Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, but Obama called it a “screw up” to have his campaign distribute the documents to reporters on an off-the-record basis.

The Clintons will campaign as a couple in Iowa over the Independence Day holiday — the first time the two have campaigned together since Senator Clinton announced her bid for the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential nomination.