Trump returning to N.H. next week for first time since 2016 election

  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Oct. 28, 2016, in Manchester. Trump is set to return to New Hampshire for the first time since the 2016 election on Monday, March 19, 2018. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 3/14/2018 8:31:01 PM

President Donald Trump is coming to New Hampshire next week.

The White House told the Monitor on Wednesday that the President will visit the Granite State next Monday, March 19. Trump is expected to make a policy announcement on opioids during an afternoon event at Manchester Community College.

Trump will then make a stop at the Manchester Central Fire Station to get an up-close look at Safe Station, the first-of-its-kind program, originated in Manchester, which opens up the city’s 10 fire stations as intake centers – without fear of arrest – for people seeking help as they battle drug and alcohol addiction.

The program has become a first step toward recovery for thousands dealing with substance misuse. And it’s been copied by some cities in New Hampshire and across the country.

The president gave the program a shout-out last autumn when he declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency.

“Fire Chief Dan Goonan of New Hampshire – great state – runs a program Safe Station, which allows drug-dependent residents to seek help at fire stations at any time,” Trump said.

Goonan was in attendance at the White House event. And a White House Opioid Summit held earlier this month included a video of Goonan discussing the Safe Station program.

The visit to New Hampshire will be Trump’s first since the night before the 2016 presidential election, when he held a large rally at SNHU Arena in Manchester. Trump narrowly lost the fight for the state’s four electoral votes to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. New Hampshire not only traditionally holds the first presidential primary in the race for the White House, it’s also become a crucial battleground state in the general election.

Trump easily won New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary in February 2016 – his first primary victory in his path toward winning the Republican nomination and eventually the White House. In his dozens of campaign stops during the primaries and the general election, Trump often vowed to take action to help Granite Staters deal with the state’s drug crisis. New Hampshire ranks third in the country, behind West Virginia and Ohio, in opioid-related deaths per capita.

But Trump has faced criticism for not following through on his pledge. The president’s declaration last autumn didn’t include any extra federal money that many states say is essential to battle the epidemic. Trump’s move was also smaller in scope that what his own opioid commission had recommended. And it fell short of what he had previously said when he declared he was “going to make it a national emergency.”

While Trump professed his love for New Hampshire countless times during the 2016 presidential campaign, he characterized the state as a “drug-infested den” while speaking to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a phone conversation in January last year.

In his conversation, which was revealed last August, Trump said the state’s opioid epidemic helped propel him to his primary victory in New Hampshire.

Trump’s stop in New Hampshire will be followed three days later with a visit by Vice President Mike Pence, who is scheduled to headline a fundraiser in Manchester for Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s re-election campaign.

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