“Drug abuse has always been a challenge for New Hampshire, but, with the opioid crisis, it has reached epic proportions”
The transcript of President Trump’s call with Mexico’s President Peña Nieto, leaked and then published by the WaPo, contained some remarks about New Hampshire that generated a lot of criticism. The context in which Trump raised the issue was in speaking to the Mexican president about the problem of drugs supplied by Mexico:
“We have a massive drug problem, where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy,” Trump said. “I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.”
According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Hampshire ranks No. 2 in the nation behind West Virginia for the number of opioid-related deaths relative to its population. New Hampshire also ranks No. 1 in fentanyl-related deaths per capita…
From February to June 2016, the opioid-related emergency department in New Hampshire saw its visits increase by a whopping 70 percent.
New Hampshire Manchester Fire Department Chief Daniel Goonan told the publication that about half of his job is now dedicated to dealing with the opioid outbreak.
Trump has been consistent in talking about this, particularly during his campaign for the New Hampshire primary, which he won handily. It was his first primary win, and I’m convinced that it’s what he was referring to when he mentions to Peña Nieto that he “won” the state (which he lost narrowly to Clinton by .3% in the general).
In January of 2016, a month before the NH primary, PBS and some NH Democrats were singing this tune:
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, say New Hampshire, and most people in the political world think first-in-the-nation primary, coming up February 9.
But, these days, there’s another, more disturbing distinction for the Granite State, the expectation that last year’s fatal drug overdoses will hit a record 400 deaths.
Today, presidential candidates and state political leaders gathered for a forum to tackle addiction and the growing heroin crisis.
I traveled to New Hampshire last month to get a firsthand look at the epidemic and its repercussions…
GOV. MAGGIE HASSAN, D-N.H.: The opioid epidemic is really our most pressing public health and public safety issue right now.
DONNA SYTEK, Former New Hampshire House Speaker: Drug abuse has always been a challenge for New Hampshire, but, with the opioid crisis, it has reached epic proportions.
There’s much much more at that link, including the startling statistic that among NH’s population of about 1.3 million people, 100,000 are in need of drug treatment, and the state is next to last in the nation in terms of access to help.
“Drug-infested den” doesn’t seem like such an inaccurate description.
That’s basically the same opinion of New Hampshire’s drug woes that Trump demonstrated during his 2016 campaign when speaking in that state and elsewhere. This was from January of 2016:
Donald Trump got personal on Friday in answering a father’s question about stopping the rampant heroin epidemic.
“I lost my son two years ago to a heroin overdose,” a man told Trump at a rally in Urbandale, Iowa, his first event after Thursday night’s debate.
Trump asked whether the man was from Iowa; he responded that he was from Owego, New York, an upstate town in the center of the state that has been no stranger to the influx of heroin in recent years.
“Well, you know they have a tremendous problem in New Hampshire with the heroin. Unbelievable. It’s always the first question I get, and they have a problem all over. And it comes through the border,” the GOP presidential candidate said. He then repeated his most famous pledge: “We’re going to build a wall, number one, we’re going to build a wall, and it’s going to be a real wall.”
And here’s Trump speaking in Farmington, New Hampshire shortly before the New Hampshire primary:
Speaking to a capacity crowd of 1,000 at Farmington High School, Trump said his signature proposal, to build a wall across the country’s border with Mexico, would stem the flow of illicit drugs into the state.
“The question I get just about number one when I come up to New Hampshire: the drugs that are pouring in,” Trump said. “They’re coming across the Southern border and we are going to stop it.”
Three days before the primary, Trump was hammering away at the theme:
Donald Trump on Saturday again vowed to build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border — this time arguing that it would help stem New Hampshire’s “drug epidemic.”
“New Hampshire has a tremendous drug epidemic,” Trump says. “I am going to create borders. No drugs are coming in. We’re going to build a wall…”
Shortly before the general election, Trump was still talking about it:
Trump said he specifically heard concerns about the drug epidemic from residents in New Hampshire when he was campaigning during the primary.
Trump said the state holds a special place in his heart because it handed him his first victory.
Trump told the crowd that “New Hampshire, more than any other place, taught me about the flow of drugs into this country. I never knew it was so bad.”
Trump noted his shock at the state’s drug issue given its beautiful scenery.
“You look at the beautiful little roadways, lakes and trees, and everything is so beautiful, the trees, you say, how could they have a drug problem here, it doesn’t fit,” he said.
“If I go all the way, we are going to stop the inflow of drugs into New Hampshire and into our country,” Trump said.
Trump’s remarks to Peña Nieto about drugs in New Hampshire were consistent with his remarks during the campaign, and consistent with the facts. That state’s primary win was a big deal to Trump, and he felt it was inextricably tied into his emphasis on the state’s drug problem, which was also tied into his rhetoric about Mexico and the wall.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
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