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Sununu Campaigns With Haley at Hooksett Wedding Venue, but He’s Not Ready to Commit

Appearing with Nikki Haley at the site of the New Balance facility that just broke ground in Londonderry on Monday, Gov. Chris Sununu said he was ready to announce his pick … for his favorite sneaker.

Sununu was talking up the Granite State’s key role in picking the next commander-in-chief when an audience member called out, “Endorsement!”

“I endorse New Balance wholeheartedly and completely,” Sununu said.

Sununu, who has been campaigning with GOP presidential candidates for weeks — including a scheduled appearance with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on Tuesday — then headed off to  Oscar Barn in Hooksett for a Haley town hall. The popular wedding venue with views of the Merrimack River and tree-lined fields would have been the perfect place for Sununu to announce his endorsement, but it’s clear he still has commitment issues.



Haley has been making headlines as she rises in the polls, and interviews with attendees found many undecided voters coming to get a first — or, in some cases, second — look at the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador. 

Haley hit her marks with her message of speaking “hard truths” about the problems the country faces, from the porous southern border to a struggling economy made worse by feckless Republicans in Congress. She called out President Joe Biden’s weak foreign policy that she says has invited aggression from Russia’s Vladimir Putin against Ukraine and Hamas terrorists in Israel.

But the hot topic at any Republican gathering is Donald Trump, and Haley didn’t avoid the former president with the 30-point lead in the primary.

Haley’s message: She supported Trump in the past, but it is time for a new generation of leadership. Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the eight past presidential elections, she reminded them, and the risk of another loss is too high.

“We have a country to save,” she said.

Chaos follows Trump wherever he goes, she told the crowd and the stakes are too great for more of the Trump Show, even if voters like what he did during his first term.

“With an economy out of control and wars around the world, we can’t afford any more chaos,” Haley said.

Turning the page on the Trump era is a message Sununu has been pushing for months. On Monday, Sununu said Trump tapped into the real frustrations and concerns Americans are experiencing but couldn’t accomplish what needed to be done to solve enough problems to make a lasting difference.

“He had some good policies, but he didn’t really get enough done for a lot of folks’ liking,” Sununu said. “There’s an opportunity to bring a conservative into the White House, connect with individuals, appreciate their frustration, and actually accomplish a lot of these policy objectives, and do it without the chaos.”

There are nine weeks to go before the primary, and this is the time voters start to pay attention, learn about the candidate, and make their decisions, Sununu said. Now is the time the candidates can really build momentum.

That is what Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are all hoping for in the final months of the New Hampshire campaign. And, political observers say, Sununu’s endorsement could be the push they need to start that “Big Mo.”

A day earlier, Trump picked up the endorsement of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, representing the largest Republican state with the most convention delegates in the country.

“We need a president who’s going to secure the border,” Abbott said. “We need Donald J. Trump back as our president of the United States of America.”

Sununu is spending plenty of time with the candidates, but he seems more interested in getting them to buy into the 603 agenda. Government shouldn’t tell people how to live or dictate to businesses how they should operate, Sununu said. It’s about providing opportunities for people to make their own decisions in their lives.

“(New Hampshire wants) a president that understands the individual comes first, the business comes first, the parent comes first,” Sununu said. “That’s really what Live Free or Die means.” 

When he does make an endorsement decision in the coming week, Sununu said he will go all out for the candidate he backs.

“I tend to not leave anything on the table,” Sununu said.

Sununu played coy when meeting with national media after Haley’s stump speech. Asked when he would make his endorsement, he replied, “Sometime after today.”


Synthetic Opioid Carfentanil Enters NH. What Is It and Where Does It Come From?

New Hampshire became the latest state to have three residents die of overdoses from one of the most deadly opioid drugs in the world, adding to the growing list of communities nationwide trying to handle the crisis. Gov. Chris Sununu and public health officials announced last week that for the first time in the Granite State, the synthetic opioid carfentanil was found in the bloodstream of three people who died from overdoses in March.

Two of the deaths were in Manchester, and the third was in Meredith. The substance is so potent that it’s not intended for human consumption. It’s 100 times more potent than fentanyl and is commonly used to tranquilize elephants.

“Unfortunately, today is the first day that we’ve been able to confirm this,” Sununu said at a Tuesday press conference. “And worse yet, I think we all understand that it is likely not the last day that we talk about this issue.”

New Hampshire is the first New England state to have confirmed deaths from carfentanil and its effects are being felt by many key players in the opioid crisis, including public health officials, first responders, and treatment and recovery providers.

While these are the first confirmed cases in New Hampshire, the rise in carfentanil overdoses has been happening throughout the United States over the last few months. At least 96 heroin users overdosed in one devastating week in August in just one Ohio county, with several of the overdoses linked to carfentanil. In September, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued a nationwide warning about the powerful opioid.

Tom Pifer, forensic lab director for the N.H. State Police, said the drug was developed in the mid-1970s by a pharmaceutical company, but was never made public due to its high potency.

It takes just two milligrams of carfentanil to knock out a 2,000-pound African elephant. When veterinarians or zookeepers do that, they wear gloves and face masks to prevent exposure to the drug because a dose the size of a grain of salt could kill a person. A dose may even be lethal when absorbed through the skin or potentially through inhalation. That’s why the state asked law enforcement and first responders to stop field testing drugs. The problem is that users might not know they are even taking the drug since dealers have been cutting heroin with fentanyl or carfentanil to give it a boost and stretch their supply further.

“You cannot tell the difference between heroin and fentanyl and certainly not fentanyl and carfentanil,” Pifer told New Hampshire Public Radio. “You are literally rolling the dice with any sort of dosage unit you’re purchasing on the street.”

It’s not only incredibly powerful, but it’s also incredibly resistant to naloxone — also known as Narcan, the opioid antidote that can save someone’s life from a heroin overdose. A typical overdose requires one or two shots to work, but when a dosage is laced with carfentanil, it could require six or more shots to be effective — if it works at all.

Even though there is an abundant supply of Narcan in states battling the opioid crisis, an increase in carfentanil overdoses could deplete the antidote supply fairly quickly and drain money from states who need to purchase more. With drug overdose deaths rising, state crime labs could also see a backlog of cases to investigate. In New Hampshire, there are thousands of cases dating back from 2015 that have yet to be investigated.

A criticism in New Hampshire of government officials is that funding from the state and federal government to tackle the crisis has been slow to come out.

Congress signed the 21st Century Act in December, which would provide more funding to states for the opioid crisis. In April, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said $485 million in grants would soon be administered to states. It’s not clear exactly when that would happen.

New Hampshire is ranked as the second hardest hit state in the opioid crisis based on per capita deaths. Yet, it’s only supposed to receive $3 million out of the $485 million promised to states since the formula is based on total mortality. Shaheen is urging Trump’s administration to revise the funding formula for next year.

The other Democratic senator from New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, and Shaheen wrote in a letter last week to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price that the formula should be re-tooled. Officials have indicated that they will review the formula and the two senators were optimistic after their meeting with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is heading President Donald Trump’s national opioid commission.

In March, Trump created The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis with Christie at its helm to start fulfilling his campaign promise to end the opioid crisis.

Trump promised the people of New Hampshire that he would build a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border to curb the opioid crisis and stop the flow of drugs into the area.

“New Hampshire has a tremendous drug epidemic,” he said in October. “I am going to create borders. No drugs are coming in. We’re going to build a wall. You know what I’m talking about. You have confidence in me. Believe me, I will solve the problem. They will stop coming to New Hampshire. They will stop coming to our country.”

While heroin supplies mostly come from Mexico, synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and carfentanil, are believed to originate in China. Even though it’s illegal there, secret labs in the country manufacture the drug before shipping it to the United States. People can order it online, and it’s shipped through the U.S. Postal Service before it makes its way into the local heroin supply.

It’s still not immediately clear how the drug made it into New Hampshire. It’s likely that either someone bought it online, or it was purchased in another state and then followed the traditional route of heroin and fentanyl into the Granite State, which is from major distribution centers like Philadelphia and New York and then through Massachusetts.

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