'New Hampshire is a drug-infested den' – Trump's comments raise bipartisan ire
Donald Trump’s reference to New Hampshire as a “drug-infested den” in a call with the Mexican president was “disgusting”, “wrong” and an example of “appalling … hate-filled rhetoric”, the state’s Democratic lawmakers and Republican governor said.
“We have the drug lords in Mexico that are knocking the hell out of our country,” Trump said. “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 – [it] is coming from the southern border.”
On Thursday, state lawmakers condemned Trump’s remark over its tone and called it inaccurate. New Hampshire does have a serious problem with drugs, they said, but with opioid addiction of the kind that is affecting a number of states rather than over narcotics smuggled in from abroad.
Using the president’s favourite medium, Twitter, Senator Maggie Hassan said Trump’s remark was “disgusting”, adding: “As he knows, NH and states across America have a substance misuse crisis.
“To date, [Trump] has proposed policies that would severely set back our efforts to combat this devastating epidemic. Instead of insulting people in the throes of addiction, [Trump] needs to work across party lines to actually stem the tide of this crisis.”
Senator Jeanne Shaheen tweeted that Trump “owes [New Hampshire] an apology & then should follow through on his promise to Granite Staters to help end this crisis. It’s absolutely unacceptable for the president to be talking about [New Hampshire] in this way – a gross misrepresentation of [New Hampshire] & the epidemic.”
The Republican governor, Chris Sununu, said in a statement: “The president is wrong. It’s disappointing his mischaracterisation of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer. Our administration inherited one of the worst health crises this state has ever experienced but we are facing the challenge head on.”
The Democratic congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter issued a statement in which she said: “No, Mr President, you’re wrong about New Hampshire – but you have failed to help us fight the opioid crisis. We need recovery facilities NOW. Stop attacking health care and make the investments you promised.”
The state’s other US representative, the Democrat Ann McLean Kuster, said in a statement she was “appalled by President Trump’s ignorant and insulting comments.
“At a time when we need to be working together to address the opioid epidemic, Mr Trump is making disparaging remarks about New Hampshire to foreign leaders while promoting policies at home that will hurt our response to the substance misuse crisis, including efforts to roll back access to healthcare for thousands of Granite Staters.
“Mr Trump’s comments underscore how little he appreciates the gravity of this issue and the need to work together collaboratively on real solutions. President Trump should immediately apologise to all Granite Staters.”
While Trump’s remark prompted bipartisan outrage at the national level, state political parties traded barbs.
The New Hampshire Democratic party chose to tweet a picture of a bucolic New Hampshire scene, with the words: “How about this @realDonaldTrump, does this seem like a ‘drug-infested den?’ #nhpolitics.”
New Hampshire’s Republicans responded: “Are [New Hampshire Democrats] denying [New Hampshire] is in the middle of an opioid epidemic? [New Hampshire] Republicans have been working everyday to fight the crisis. #nhpolitics.”