Photo: Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump sent a handwritten note to over a dozen members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus informing them that he would not cancel his meeting on Wednesday with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as they had requested.

Why it matters: The caucus of Democratic lawmakers had denounced López Obrador's visit to celebrate the newly enacted United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal as "a blatant attempt to politicize the important U.S.-Mexico relationship” and distract from the pandemic. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, turned down the White House's invitation on Monday.

  • "While this meeting may appear to be trade related and tied to the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), it is nothing more than an attempt to distract from the coronavirus crisis and your failure to lead an adequate response to the pandemic," the lawmakers wrote.
  • "In border states such as Texas and Arizona, COVID-19 is out of control and your lack of leadership has already resulted in the deaths of more the 120,000 Americans and the gravest economic disaster since the Great Depression, both of which are decimating Latino communities."

What he's saying: "CHC - Thank you for your very nice letter," Trump wrote in what appeared to be Sharpie. "He is my friend and a wonderful man. I look forward to meeting with the president. Will be good (& important) for both Mexico & the USA."

Read the letter via DocumentCloud.

Go deeper

Trump campaign aims to capitalize on AMLO's visit

López Obrador and Trump at the White House on July 8. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's White House visit was catnip for the Trump campaign. Campaign officials tell Axios they plan to use some of his comments to try to court Hispanic voters.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the campaign's plans specifically said they will likely use one quote from López Obrador in TV ads aimed at Hispanic voters later this year. "I'm here to express to the people of the United States that their President has behaved with us with kindness and respect. You have treated us just as what we are: a country and a dignified people; a free, democratic, and sovereign people."

Axios-Ipsos poll: Fear of voting

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to worry about in-person voting — with nearly two in three seeing it as a large or moderate risk to their health — according to this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.

Trump: Coronavirus is “under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.