New Hampshire officials are condemning President Donald Trump, after leaked transcripts showed he called the state ” a drug-infested den” in a call to the president of Mexico.
According to a Washington Post report Tuesday, Trump comments came in a January 27 call with President Enrique Peña Nieto while discussing illicit drug trafficking across the southern border. The Post obtained the full transcript of the call, which was prepared by the White House, but had not previously been released.
Trump reportedly told Peña Nieto that “drug lords in Mexico” are “knocking the hell out of” the United States, and mentioned New Hampshire as one of the places affected.
“I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den,” Trump said.
New Hampshire is indeed one the states hardest hit by the national opioid epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, it ranks second only to West Virginia for drug overdose deaths per capita and is first when it comes to synthetic opioid-related deaths.
That said, New Hampshire’s elected leaders took serious issue with the degrading language Trump used to describe the state’s struggles.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who supported Trump during his campaign, called the remarks “wrong” and “disappointing.”
According to Sununu, the president’s comments ignored the “great things the state has to offer,” as well as the resources New Hampshire had committed to battling the epidemic.
“Our administration inherited one of the worst health crises this state has ever experienced, but we are facing this challenged head on,” the first-term governor said in a statement.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said that Trump owed the state an apology and suggested the president had yet to follow through on this “promise” to address the crisis.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable for the President to be talking about New Hampshire in this way — it’s a gross misrepresentation of New Hampshire and the epidemic,” the second-term Democrat said in a statement.
Sen. Maggie Hassan, also a Democrat, called the president’s comments “disgusting.”
“Instead of insulting people in the throes of addiction, the President needs to work across party lines to actually stem the tide of this crisis,” Hassan said in a statement.
The freshman senator also said Trump’s proposed policies would “severely set back our efforts to combat this devastating epidemic.”
Since taking office, Trump has commissioned a federal study group to make recommendations on how to address the crisis, but he has been criticized for a lack of action and focus on the issue. According to the Associated Press, the president’s proposed budget would reduce funding for addiction treatment, research, and prevention through cuts to federal health programs, such as Medicaid.
On the campaign trail last year, Trump pledged to make the opioid crisis a central focus of his presidency.
New Hampshire was ranked the second best state in the country earlier this year by U.S. News and World Report.