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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

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”