Credit: Huffington Post via YouTube

Drawing on the emotional story of the death of a law school friend, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made an impassioned plea to treat drug addicts instead of locking them up while campaigning in heroin-ravaged New Hampshire.

“We need to start treating people in this country, not jailing them,” he said in the Huffington Post video from last week, which has since gone viral. “We need to give them the tools they need to recover, because every life is precious, every life is an individual gift from God, and we have to stop judging and start giving them the tools they need to get better.”

The video was shot at a bar in New Hampshire. That state’s heroin problem is so severe that voters in a recent poll said it was the most pressing issue — even more than the economy.

Christie, a Republican, called on his party, and pro-lifers, to focus on helping people with addictions.

“I’m pro-life. And I think that if you’re pro-life, that means you have to be pro-life for the whole life,” he said. “The 16-year-old teenage girl on the floor of the the county lockup, addicted to heroin — I’m pro-life for her, too. Her life is just as much a precious gift from God as the one in the womb. And we need to start thinking that way as a party and as a people, and the president needs to say those things.”

Christie’s speech came the week before Gov. Paul LePage — who stumped for the presidential candidate and has called him a friend — dropped in on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee to reiterate his stance that Maine needs more law enforcement to fight drug dealers.

Maine had fatal 105 drug overdoses in the first six months of this year.

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Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the...