Gates sat down with Mike Allen at the National Archives Building Thursday to discuss his experience leading the DOD, the CIA, and Texas A&M. They talked about Gates' role in Tillerson's nomination, sending strong messages to military aggression, and upcoming challenges for Trump's Administration in geopolitics.

  1. Gates recommended Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State: As he said he told Trump, "an unorthodox choice and person I would recommend is Rex Tillerson. I've known Rex for a number of years, actually through the Boy Scouts where... after these meetings Rex and I would stay up late into the night talking about the world… I felt he had a great understanding of geopolitics and geo-strategy. He wasn't going to need a briefing book to know about Indonesia or South America or the Middle East or Russia…. I later learned from the press that was the first time he had heard Tillerson's name."
  2. On Tillerson's relationship to Putin: "Just because somebody has done business with Vladimir Putin doesn't make them friends."
  3. On Russian fighters coming within feet of American ships and aircraft: "If I were secretary of defense… when that Russian plane flew within 20 or 30 feet of an American warship, I would have sent a message. I would have asked the president to send a message to Putin, 'the next time your forces come that close to one of our ships, we will paint it, and we will shoot.'"
  4. On sending messages to Iran in the Persian Gulf: "You guys get closer than a half mile to one of our ships… I would've sent the message: we're going to react. Just know it. And you're not going to win."

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Updated 34 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it's too early to say whether next month's elections will be postponed after she announced Tuesday four people had tested positive for COVID-19 after no local cases for 102 days.

Zoom in: NZ's most populous city, Auckland, has gone on lockdown for 72 hours and the rest of the country is under lesser restrictions.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 20,188,678 — Total deaths: 738,668 — Total recoveries: 12,452,126Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 5,138,850 — Total deaths: 164,480 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. States: Georgia reports 137 coronavirus deaths, setting new daily record Florida reports another daily record for deaths.
  4. Health care: Trump administration buys 100 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. Sports: Big Ten scraps fall football season.

Voters cast ballots in Minnesota, Georgia, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Vermont

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Primary elections are being held on Tuesday in Minnesota, Georgia, Connecticut, Vermont and Wisconsin.

The big picture: Georgia and Wisconsin both struggled to hold primaries during the coronavirus pandemic, but are doing so again — testing their voting systems ahead of the general election. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is facing a strong challenger as she fights for her political career. In Georgia, a Republican primary runoff pits a QAnon supporter against a hardline conservative.