President Trump during his rally at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Sept. 16. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

President Trump made a pitch to Latino voters at a rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Monday night, touting the low unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans and declaring that he'd win the state.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to win the Democratic stronghold, where almost half the population is Hispanic, will provide a test of how well his hardline immigration policies and rhetoric about immigrants will play with Latino voters, AP notes.

The Hispanic Americans understand they don't want criminals going across the border. They don't want people taking their jobs. They want security, and they want the wall."
— Trump at the rally

Details: In his first visit to the border state as president, Trump also railed against Democrats, the media and the New York Times in particular for reporting a new allegation of sexual misconduct leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — which he called a "smear."

  • During the rally, Trump singled out supporter and CNN commentator Steve Cortes, who was in the audience, saying: "He happens to be Hispanic, but I’ve never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do. ... But I’ll tell you what, there is nobody that loves this country more or Hispanics more than Steve Cortes."
  • Trump was criticized by Democrats for asking Cortes whether he liked the country or Hispanics more. After Cortes answered, Trump said, "He says the country. I don’t know, I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We got a lot of Hispanics. We love our Hispanics. Get out and vote."

The big picture: Trump lost New Mexico in 2016. But Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told Politico that the team had seen a "dramatic increase" in favorable polling from 2016 that made them decide to hold the rally near Albuquerque.

  • It would be a remarkable achievement if Trump could pull off a surprise win.
  • His net approval rating in the state has fallen from +17 when he first took office to -13 in July, and demographers and pollsters told Axios' Stef Knight it's highly unlikely the president could win New Mexico's 5 electoral votes.

Go deeper: Why Trump is rallying in New Mexico

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Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

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