The Hippo


May 27, 2020








Primary Update

NH leaning toward Sanders
According to the latest CNN/ORC poll, Hillary Clinton is still leading the Democratic pack nationally with 42 percent to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 24 percent and Vice President Joe Biden’s 22 percent. (Biden still has not officially announced his bid.) That’s an improvement for Clinton, who was at 37 percent in the early part of September. However, polls in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa and New Hampshire show a different picture. Sanders is now ahead of Clinton in both states. NHPR reported he’s leading Clinton by 22 points in the Granite State and by 10 points in Iowa.
During the recent Democratic Party state convention at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, five Democratic candidates for president gave campaign speeches. During a speech, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was drowned out by hecklers who called out for more debates, the Union Leader reported. 
Carly in second
A new poll taken three days following a Republican debate on CNN shows that billionaire Donald Trump has fallen to 24 points from 32 earlier in the month, but he’s still in first place. Meanwhile, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has rocketed up to second place with 15 percent largely due to her strong performance in the debate, CNN reported. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had briefly enjoyed the No. 2 spot but he was bumped to a close third place with 14 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is in fourth place with 11 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is in fifth with 9 percent.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has decided to suspend his campaign after a poor showing in the polls following the latest Republican debate, the Washington Post reported.
This week, the state will be visited by several Republican candidates, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Free ponies for all
Performance artist and Rockport, Mass., resident Vermin Supreme officially announced his bid for president on his Facebook page, The Gloucester Times reported. The man, often seen wearing a boot on his head and several multi-colored neckties, ran as a Republican in 2008 and as a Democrat in 2012. As in past elections, Supreme’s platform is free ponies for every citizen and mandatory toothbrushing.

NH making drug epidemic a campaign issue
Presidential candidates forced to address opioid addiction

By Ryan Lessard

Despite their initial surprise, presidential candidates are starting to address the drug epidemic in New Hampshire as they continue to field addiction-related questions from voters.

A NH issue
Back in April when Hillary Clinton made her first visit to the state this election cycle, she was asked how she would deal with the state’s substance abuse issues. The Concord Monitor reported a woman from Keene told Clinton she’s taking care of her 5-year-old grandson because his mother is addicted to drugs. Clinton has said this experience stuck with her. She later said she didn’t expect the issue to come up, or for it to keep coming up like it has. 
“It is a local issue. It is particularly acute in New Hampshire, and it’s becoming part of the conversation in the 2016 election cycle,” said Wayne Lesperance, a professor of political science at New England College.
The problem
The opioid crisis has spread to all corners of the state, resulting in more deaths than ever before; in 2014, there were 326 drug-related deaths in New Hampshire. In 2013, there were 193 drug-related deaths and 164 in 2012.
Addiction often starts with prescribed painkillers and later switches to heroin, which is a cheaper and more potent alternative.
Officials in law enforcement and the medical community say opioids such as heroin, fentanyl or oxycodone are among the most addictive drugs in the world. And Granite Staters are now well-versed in the problem. According to a recent UNH Survey Center poll, 46 percent of adult residents reported they knew someone who has abused heroin in the past five years, and drug abuse was shown to have risen from an issue of relatively zero concern a couple years ago to the second-highest issue, after jobs and the economy.
Tym Rourke, the chair of the governor’s commission on substance abuse, says the silver lining is the greater attention candidates are now paying to this.
“It’s ... unfortunate that it’s taken the dramatic death toll that we’ve seen from opiate overdoses to really trigger a broader conversation on the political landscape,” he said.
“You’ve heard some candidates talk about the fact that, quite honestly, they came into New Hampshire ready to talk about some of the more typical issues … and then found themselves in town hall meetings or meetings with business leaders where issues of addiction and the substance abuse crisis were really brought to their tables,” Rourke said.
Lesperance can’t think of a past sleeper issue that has been elevated to this level of significance.
“It is a surprise. When you look at polling data historically we talk about things like jobs, the economy, probably some foreign policy, social security, immigration,” Lespreance said.
While Lesperance thinks it will be difficult to address this from a policy standpoint when the issue strikes so close to home for Granite Staters, several candidates have made some first steps.
In a recent opinion piece written by Hillary Clinton and published in the Union Leader, she wrote, “Plain and simple, drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing — and we must treat it as such.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has said much the same thing on multiple occasions.
“We’re looking at this as a moral failing,” Christie said at the Voters First Forum in August. “[But] everyone makes mistakes. Everyone in this audience has made a mistake.”
Some candidates have personal stories of their own to share.
Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, broke her five-year silence about her stepdaughter’s overdose death. And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush opened up about his daughter Noelle’s struggle with drugs over the years, saying it was a heartbreaking thing for a dad to see.
On the other end of the spectrum, Sen. Rand Paul, during a talk in Manchester, asserted that if people have a job they won’t have time to do drugs. Christie criticized Paul, saying his comments reveal his lack of understanding.
Candidate plans
Christie has been one of the most vocal about addiction, especially among Republicans. He hosted a roundtable at the Farnum Center rehab facility in Manchester in May, and he’s pointed to his reforms in New Jersey.
“If you’re not a violent offender, if you’re not dealing drugs to our children, then we need to get you treatment rather than prison,” Christie said at the Voters First Forum.
Cheryl Wilkie, the senior vice president of substance abuse for Easter Seals, heads the Farnum Center and Webster Place in Franklin. She said she was encouraged by Christie’s track record and ideas.
“I have said for many years that we have many county jails and a state prison that houses many people who are there because of drugs and alcohol. … And yet we are complaining and concerned about not having enough beds,” Wilkie said.
So far, the most detailed proposal of how a candidate would tackle this problem has come from Clinton, who revealed her plan earlier this month. She said she would spend $10 billion in new federal dollars to aid prevention and treatment programs over the next decade, train prescribers and make anti-overdose drugs more available.
It’s unclear whether a Republican candidate would boost federal funding by that much, but Rourke says the most potentially divisive element of Clinton’s proposal would be to prop up an element of the Affordable Care Act known as “parity,” which requires insurance providers treat mental illness and substance abuse the same as they would diabetes. Rourke says insurance companies have been finding ways around that new requirement; Clinton proposes to enforce that law.
Few others have unveiled detailed proposals, but Lesperance expects that to change in the coming months. 

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