Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday had some nice – and some not-so-nice – things to say about how past and current presidential administrations handled America’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis.
“Both President Trump and President Biden have treated it as a crisis in name only,” the Republican presidential hopeful said during remarks at Rochester’s Hope on Haven Hill substance use disorder treatment center. “And this is a president with a son who has experienced addiction.
“To me, it is unacceptable that the president (Biden) has been silent on this.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 110,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2022, with 70 percent of them attributed to opioids. Meanwhile, New Hampshire’s increase in overdose-related deaths is one of the nation’s worst, having experienced a 14 percent jump from 2021 to 2022.
The state medical examiner’s latest report confirmed 486 deaths in 2022 alone.
Christie recounted the steps his administration took in New Jersey to tackle the crisis, noting that his administration spearheaded programs offering treatment as opposed to more jail time and another policy preventing anyone who dials 911 to report an overdose from being arrested themselves.
He also recalled his work leading a commission under Trump tasked with finding solutions to the problem.
“While I declined every other opportunity to work in Donald Trump’s administration – and there were many offers – the one I was determined to take on was when the President asked me to chair his commission on combating drug addiction and the opioid crisis in 2017,” Christie said. He noted the bipartisan panel came up with 56 recommendations to address the problem.
The most significant legislation born from the commission was the 2018 SUPPORT (Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities) Act, which funded awareness, treatment, and recovery programs.
Congress did not reauthorize funding for the legislation in 2023. Christie said the blame rests with Biden as a result of the president’s apparent indifference.
“It would be unacceptable for any president to be silent about this, but he owes it to this country as a father who understands the pain that every member of a family goes through,” Christie said. “It’s astonishing to me that he’s not railing against Congress to get this reauthorized.”
President Biden’s son, 53-year-old Hunter Biden, has a well-documented history of drug addiction, along with mounting legal problems.
If elected president, Christie has vowed to secure the southern United State border to help stem the flow of fentanyl and other drugs into the country and is also promising to open up more accessible treatment programs for Americans suffering from opioid addiction.
Yet Christie is currently facing an uphill battle in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Recent polling shows him claiming just 10 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote, tied with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and trailing both the overwhelming frontrunner Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. A new poll from the St. Anselm College Survey Center released Wednesday put Christie in third place with 12 percent support, well behind Trump (44 percent) and Haley (30 percent).
After his Wednesday appearance in Rochester, Christie told the New Hampshire Journal he “feels really good” about the state of his campaign.
“I’m the only one doing what I’m doing,” Christie said. “You can’t pretend that you oppose Donald Trump and then be unwilling to say you won’t be his vice president.”
Christie referenced Haley’s record of refusing to comment on whether she’d accept an offer to run as Trump’s vice president.
“She won’t say it, and that will tell you everything you need to know about why she’s not willing to attack him. Believe me, I went through this eight years ago, and you’re not going to beat Donald Trump by ignoring him or trying to be nice to him.
“There’s only one way to beat him, and that’s to beat him, so we’re going to do it.”