State leaders respond to Trump criticizing it as a ‘drug-infested den’

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New Hampshire lawmakers weren’t thrilled to hear what Trump had to say about their state in a January conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, the full transcript of which was leaked Thursday.

“Up in New Hampshire … I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den,” Trump told Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto over the phone, according to a Washington Post report.

Few places have been hit harder by the opioid epidemic than the rural reaches of New Hampshire, which falls behind only West Virginia for states with the most overdose-induced deaths nationwide. The state ranks number one in fentanyl-induced deaths and the sensitivity of the issue has reached a breaking point with lawmakers.

Low treatment funding coupled with a high prescription rate
has forced legislators in New Hampshire to scramble when other states can take a calmer approach to combating the issue. Senator Jean Shaheen’s first action was to implement Carl’s Law, calling for opiate prescriptions to be explicitly labeled as addictive. Thus, Shaheen wasn’t in the best frame of mind to hear the president speaking so flippantly about such a serious issue in her state six months after the fact.

@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.”

New Hampshire Republicans defended the state on Twitter against the unfair generalization but didn’t deny that the opioid scourge is real, and implied the states’ Democrats weren’t doing enough to fix it.

“Are @NHDems denying NH is in the middle of an opioid epidemic?” one tweet read. “NH Republicans have been working everyday to fight the crisis.”

New Hampshire’s Republican governor Chris Sununu made clear in a statement his defense of the state’s true character.

“The president is wrong,” Sununu said. “It’s disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer.”

Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan reaffirmed that the issue is a bipartisan one and that there is little value in bickering.

“Instead of insulting people in the throes of addiction, @POTUS needs to work across party lines to actually stem the tide of this crisis,” Hassan said on Twitter.

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