President Donald Trump reportedly called New Hampshire a “drug-infested den” during a call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
On Thursday, The Washington Post released a leaked transcript of President Trump’s phone call with Enrique Peña Nieto, which took place on January 27th. While speaking about drugs coming across the southern border, Trump made reference to New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic.
“And we have the drug lords in Mexico that are knocking the hell out of our country,” Trump told Enrique Peña Nieto. “They are sending drugs to Chicago, Los Angeles, and to New York. Up in New Hampshire – I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den – is coming from the southern border.”
In 2015, more than 400 people died of a drug overdose in New Hampshire, two-and-a-half times more than in 2011, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.
Trump actually did not win New Hampshire on November 8th; Hillary Clinton just barely won the state with 46.9 percent of the vote compared to Trump’s 46.6 percent. However, Trump was likely referring to the New Hampshire Republican primary during the call with Enrique Peña Nieto. The New Hampshire primary was the first that Trump won, and it was a major turning point in the campaign after Ted Cruz had defeated Trump in Iowa.
Trump frequently spoke about New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic during the presidential election, especially before the state’s primary. He said in a campaign video in February 2016, “New Hampshire has a tremendous drug epidemic. I am going to create borders. No drugs are coming in. We’re going to build a wall. You know what I’m talking about. You have confidence in me. Believe me, I will solve the problem.”
Throughout the rest of the campaign, Trump continued to talk about the drug epidemic in New Hampshire, suggesting that this is why he won the state’s primary.
“When I won the New Hampshire primary, I promised we’d stop drugs from pouring into community,” Trump said in an October 2016 rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, according to Politico. “I guarantee we will. You will be so proud of your president, you will be so proud of your community. You will be so proud.”
Democrats in New Hampshire were quick to criticize Trump’s leaked remarks. New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan said on Twitter that Trump’s comments are disgusting and that the president’s policies would set back efforts to combat the drug epidemic.
New Hampshire’s other Democratic senator, Jeanne Shaheen, expressed similar thoughts, saying that Trump owes the state an apology.
In addition, the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s official Twitter account posted a serene picture from the state and asked Trump if it looks like a drug-infested den.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, also criticized Trump’s remarks.
“The President is wrong,” Sununu said in a statement. “It’s disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer.”
A key part of Trump’s promise to fight the drug crisis in New Hampshire was to build a wall along the southern border of the United States, which he promised Mexico would pay for. However, in another part of this leaked conversation, Trump suggests that this isn’t as important as he made it sound during the campaign.
“Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about,” Trump told Enrique Peña Nieto.