Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Why Are Presidential Candidates Talking About Heroin?

New Hampshire's heroin problem has caught the attention of many presidential hopefuls, but they're not taking a hard-line stance.

By Cliff Judy | August 30, 2015

Something strange is happening in New Hampshire. All of these candidates (and more) are talking about heroin.

And they're not taking a hard-line stance.

"In that very first conversation, the issue of heroin ... was raised with me," Hillary Clinton told a crowd in Keene, New Hampshire. "I have to confess, I was surprised." (Video via The Keene Sentinel)

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"You talk about New Hampshire for a moment ... many of the people today who are dependent on heroin are because they became dependent on prescription opiates," Sen. Marco Rubio said on a C-SPAN forum.

"The first question I was asked in my first town hall meeting was about the heroin epidemic," Jeb Bush told the New Hampshire Union-Leader. "And I was like, 'Really, tell me about it?' Because it is not a national issue."

"It's going to be really important that all presidential candidates visiting New Hampshire be prepared on this issue, to understand how it's wreaking havoc in our state," New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan told The Daily Beast. (Video via Vice)

From 2002-2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of people addicted to heroin in the U.S. doubled. The number of heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled to a total of 8,260 deaths. (Video via National Geographic)

Heroin is an opiate just like many prescription painkillers, but pills are often much more expensive, especially for the uninsured. (Video via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

"I could honestly probably find heroin nowadays as easy as you could find weed," recovering heroin addict Phil Drewiske told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Washington Post found in many states, a bag of heroin is cheaper than a pack of cigarettes.

The rate of heroin overdoses in New Hampshire in 2013 was 5.3 deaths per 100,000 people, nearly double the national rate. In 2014, the New Hampshire rate jumped to 7.5.

Some speculate the candidates are simply pandering for votes, but in the nation's second primary state, the problem and campaign questions aren't going away.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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