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New Hampshire officials blast Trump’s ‘drug-infested den’ comment

Reuters: New Hampshire officials blast Trump's 'drug-infested den' comment

by Scott Malone

New Hampshire officials from both parties lashed out on Thursday after a report that U.S. President Donald Trump called their state a "drug-infested den," with several saying his push to repeal Obamacare would worsen the nation's opioid crisis.

Democratic U.S. Senator and former Governor Maggie Hassan turned to Twitter, one of the Republican president's favorite arenas of political combat, to chastise Trump for his January remark, which the Washington Post revealed on Thursday.

"@realDonaldTrump's comments about New Hampshire are disgusting," Hassan said, referring to Trump by one of his Twitter handles. "As he knows, NH and states across America have a substance misuse crisis. Instead of insulting people in the throes of addiction, @POTUS needs to work across party lines to actually stem the tide of this."

Trump's reported comment came in a Jan. 27 phone call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, according to a transcript published by the newspaper. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the story.

Trump's win in the New Hampshire Republican presidential nominating primary in February 2016 marked his first-ever electoral victory and set him on a path to the White House, although former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton carried the state in November.

"I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den," Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the newspaper.

U.S. President Donald Trump stands during a Department of Veterans Affairs Telehealth event at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 3, 2017.Joshua Roberts

The state's governor, Republican Chris Sununu, also criticized Trump's comments.

"It's disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer," Sununu said in a statement. "Our administration inherited one of the worst health crises this state has ever experienced, but we are facing this challenge head-on."

As in many U.S. states, opioid addiction has surged in New Hampshire, where the rate of overdose deaths from those drugs has risen by 700 percent from 2012 through 2016. The state recorded close to 500 drug overdose deaths last year, according to official data.

The failed Trump-backed plan to overturn the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the formal name for Obamacare, drew criticism from several governors, including Sununu, who said proposed cuts to Medicaid would have hampered efforts to fight opioid addiction.

U.S. Representative Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, called on Trump to do more to help fund the response to the crisis.

"No, Mr. President, you're wrong about New Hampshire - but you have failed to help us fight the opioid crisis," Shea-Porter said. "Stop attacking health care, and make the investments you promised."