Trump Said He Won New Hampshire Because It's A "Drug-Infested Den" (He Didn't)

by Joseph D. Lyons
Scott Eisen/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Back in January, the election was fresh in President Trump's mind as he publicly repeated the narrative that illegal voters tipped the popular vote in Hillary Clinton's favor. But he also mentally enlarged his electoral college win, too — or at least he did on the phone with the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The Washington Post obtained a transcript of their first call on Jan. 27, and in it, Trump called New Hampshire a "drug-infested den," and claimed he won the state.

Journalists were quick to point out on Wednesday, after the Post published the transcript, that he did not. In the general election, the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, carried the state and won its four electoral college votes. It was rather close, though. She only beat Trump by about 3,000 votes.

Now it is possible that Trump was talking about the primary, although by January he was focusing the bragging on his electoral college margins from the general (as well as his inauguration crowd). Way back in February 2016, though, Trump did win the state in the Republican primary, with 35 percent of the vote. The nearest runner-up was Ohio Gov. John Kasich with just shy of 16 percent.

The bulk of the conversation was about the border wall, but after Peña Nieto said Mexico would not pay for it, Trump responded by threatening remittance payments and complaining about the trade deficit. Then, he changed the topic to illegal drugs, seemingly pointing the finger at Mexico.

"We have a massive drug problem where kids are becoming addicted to drugs because the drugs are being sold for less money than candy,” Trump told Nieto. “I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den.”

That insult has led to a response from the governor of the state, Christopher Sununu, a Republican:

The President is wrong. It's disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer.

Sununu continued, laying the blame with pass administrations but pointing to steps they're taking to fight the opioid epidemic. "We have doubled our resources to support prevention, treatment, and recovery," he added. The governor also pointed to increased law enforcement efforts and availability of the drug naloxone.

On the national level, Trump had put together a commission to fight the opioid crisis. They came back with an interim report that called on Trump to do some of the very things that Sununu says are working in New Hampshire. They called on Trump to declare a national emergency, something the administration hasn't done yet. It also called on more Medicaid funding for treatment and recovery, and one of the key components was making naloxone, the main drug used to counter an overdose, more readily available.

Trump's conversation with Peña Nieto was leaked after being recorded in a transcript form. That is common practice for meetings with other world leaders so that senior policy advisers can be looped in on the conversation, the Post reported.

Now that tidbits like this have gotten out, though, Trump may start to bite his tongue.