New Hampshire Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both Democrats and former governors, slammed President Donald Trump for reportedly calling the Granite State a “drug-infested den” during a January phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Shaheen demanded an apology, while Hassan called on Trump to help people struggling with addiction “instead of insulting” them.
On August 3, The Washington Post published excerpts from a transcript of Trump’s phone call with his Mexican counterpart seven days after his inauguration in January. The Post obtained the transcripts even though the calls have not been declassified yet.
“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 told Pena Nieto. “I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.”
Trump lost New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton during the November general election, but he easily won the state’s Republican primary in February 2016.
“.@RealDonaldTrump owes NH an apology & then should follow through on his promise to Granite Staters to help end this crisis,” Shaheen tweeted. “It’s absolutely unacceptable for the President to be talking about NH in this way – a gross misrepresentation of NH & the epidemic.”
“.@realDonaldTrump’s comments about New Hampshire are disgusting. As he knows, NH and states across America have a substance misuse crisis,” Hassan tweeted. “To date, @POTUS has proposed policies that would severely set back our efforts to combat this devastating epidemic. Instead of insulting people in the throes of addiction, @POTUS needs to work across party lines to actually stem the tide of this crisis.”
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, also issued a statement, calling the President “wrong.”
“It’s disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer,” Sununu said. “Our administration inherited one of the worst health crises the state has ever experienced, but we are facing this challenge head on.”
New Hampshire is among the states experiencing a shocking uptick in opioid drug overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it had the second-highest rate of deaths due to drug overdoses in 2015, behind only West Virginia. The state had the most deaths by fentanyl-related overdose per capita.
A March 2017 report by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner estimated that 70 percent of deaths due to drug overdoses in2016 were due to fentanyl or fentanyl combined with another opiate. In 2016, there were 456 confirmed deaths from overdoses, including 193 deaths from fentanyl only.