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

(Reuters) - 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."

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Donald Trump in New Hampshire
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Donald Trump in New Hampshire
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump rallies with supporters at an arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters stand for the national anthem as they gather to rally with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at an arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (2nd R), flanked by vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (L), kisses his daughter Ivanka Trump after she spoke for him at a rally with supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A toddler holds a book by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as supporters gather for the start of a rally with him at a car dealership in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S. October 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. (L) and vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (C) rally with supporters at an arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters bow their heads in prayer before the start of a rally with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at a car dealership in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S. October 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
FILE PHOTO: Then U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) welcomes his son Donald Trump Jr. to the stage at one of the New England Council's "Politics and Eggs' breakfasts in Manchester, New Hampshire November 11, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files
Supporters cheer during a campaign rally by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (L) rally with supporters at an arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters gather to rally with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at an arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump takes the satge for a rally at a car dealership in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S. October 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives at a campaign town hall event in Sandown, New Hampshire, U.S., October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during his victory speech as his wife Melania, looks on at his 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary night rally in Manchester, New Hampshire February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives on his plane to rally with supporters, in a town nearby, at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign town hall meeting outside a closed Osram Sylvania manufacturing facility in Manchester, New Hampshire June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
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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.

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."

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President Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G-20 summit
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President Trump and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G-20 summit
U.S. President Donald Trump meets Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto during the their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. President Donald Trump, European Council President Donald Tusk, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Financial Stability Board (FSB) President Mark Carney, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Saudi Arabia Minister of State Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, United Nations Secretary-general Antonio Guterres, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pose for a family photo at the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/Pool
US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
HAMBURG, GERMANY - JULY 07: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (top) talks to US President Donald Trump (L) and his wife Melania Trump (R) as they attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie philharmonic concert hall on the first day of the G20 economic summit on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. The G20 group of nations are meeting July 7-8 and major topics will include climate change and migration. (Photo by Felipe Trueba - Pool / Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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