Last evening, Ted Cruz was at a town hall meeting in Salem, NH, when he was hit with a question about drug abuse. If you’ve followed Cruz’s campaign, you know that his own family has experience loss due to drug abuse. His older sister, Miriam became addicted to pain pills following and accident and slid into a life of drug abuse. Because it is a campaign season, the left used the town hall as an excuse for some low-level street theater.
Not a day goes by on the New Hampshire campaign trail without residents grilling the men and women running for president on how they will address the prescription drug and heroin epidemic sweeping both the state and the country.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s Friday night town hall in Salem was no different. From the back of an elementary school cafeteria packed to capacity, Michael DeLeon called out questions to Cruz on whether he would order a federal, mandatory prescription drug monitoring program and if he would consider restricting how much pharmaceutical companies can market their products on television to unsuspecting consumers. Many cheered the question, but Cruz declined on both counts, citing the constitutional rights of big pharmaceutical companies.
“Under the First Amendment, anyone has the right to speak out and communicate with the people,” he said. “I think bad things happen when Washington decides, ‘We don’t like this speech but we do like that speech.’” While Cruz acknowledged that more oversight of the pharmaceutical industry is needed, saying, “We do have a problem with over-prescribing and people getting addicted,” he would not endorse a federal monitoring program. In fact, he called for loosening regulations to allow the Food and Drug Administration to more quickly give new drugs the stamp of approval.
When pressed on how he would combat the epidemic of heroin overdoses — which happen hundreds of times each year in New Hampshire alone — Cruz answered that he would build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border.
Visibly frustrated, DeLeon began removing the Cruz campaign buttons he had pinned to his chest.
“I’m all for the borders being shut, but drugs are getting into the hands of addicts from drug dealers in lab coats,” he told ThinkProgress. “The pharmaceutical industry is complicit in killing people. It’s a business for them. I understand Cruz’s constitutional point, but that doesn’t outweigh all the people that are dying of overdoses. So Ted Cruz completely lost my vote today.”
What they are trying to do here is paint Cruz as a hypocrite.
The question this DeLeon question asked has absolutely zero to do with heroin addiction. It is really more in line with Obama reacting to Islamic extremists killing 14 people in San Bernardino by banning people on the federal government’s notoriously flawed “no fly” list from buying firearms and then going off to apologize for Islamophobia at a mosque noted for its connection to Islamic terrorists. Drug companies can’t advertise Oxycontin directly to consumers, doctors can’t prescribe it based on patient request, and heroin is purchased via prescription (yet!) so a vast, new, and intrusive federal monitoring program will do nothing to stop drug abuse but it will put your private medical history at risk of being abused by the federal government.
DeLeon is not a Hampshire voter. Like hundreds of other political tourists flooding the state this weekend, he came hoping for a chance to talk to the men and women running for president. A former drug dealer himself who spent time in prison and now counsels young people about substance abuse and addiction, DeLeon drove up from his hometown of Camden, New Jersey to press as many candidates as possible for concrete answers.
The bottom line is that if you think the government should be able to limit constitutional rights and you think another federal program is going to solve the problem, you aren’t Ted Cruz voter. You aren’t a Marco Rubio voter. You probably aren’t even a Jeb Bush or Chris Christie voter.