MANCHESTER, N.H. — The opioid epidemic has been a hot topic on the campaign trail in New Hampshire for years. Now, Nikki Haley is combining it with one of the key focuses of her campaign: China.
Haley discussed the impact of fentanyl at length during a community discussion with the organization Freedom Movement in Manchester Wednesday afternoon. She said her time serving as ambassador to the United Nations in 2017 and 2018 allowed her to realize “how dangerous China is.”
On the campaign trail, Haley has called for ending normal trade relations with China as a solution, arguing the U.S. needs to look at, “the source” of where fentanyl is coming from.
It’s part of a broader campaign theme for Haley. She talks on the campaign trail about favoring a direct, confrontational approach with China on a number of issues, including but not limited to addressing the alleged source of fentanyl.
Ken Farnaso, a Haley spokesperson, said in a statement that Haley is “China’s worst nightmare” and that New Hampshire families “are reeling from the fentanyl crisis.”
Opioids have had a major impact on New Hampshire. According to 2022 data from the state’s chief medical examiner, overdose deaths in New Hampshire rose 11 percent, to 486. Of that number, 410 involved fentanyl.
The leading New Hampshire county in deaths for 2022 was Hillsborough County, which is anchored by Manchester, the state’s largest city.
Data from the National Institute of Health show that nationally, “drug overdoes rose from 2019 to 2021 with more than 106,000 drug overdose deaths reported in 2021.”
Haley said at her Wednesday event that opioids need to be a priority discussion, saying, “Addiction needs to be front of mind for every American.” She said resolving the crisis revolves around treating addiction as health care, educating youth about the perils of fentanyl’s omnipresence and securing the southern border.
Wednesday’s discussion wasn’t her first event on the state’s fentanyl crisis, according to Haley’s campaign. Haley held a law enforcement roundtable with Hillsborough Sheriff Chris Connelly to discuss the fentanyl crisis and crime in New Hampshire.