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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
President Trump is adding an 11th rally to his final six-day blitz leading into the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Trump will be ending his campaign swing, on election eve, in the pivotal Senate state of Missouri, according to a source with direct knowledge of Trump's plans.
Alexi McCammond got her hands on fresh details — dates and specific locations — of the Trump political team's schedule ahead of the midterms. The locations and dates we cite here, the big picture details of which were first reported by Bloomberg, are based on internal White House planning and could change:
Why this matters: In his final blitz, Trump is going to Trump country within Trump states. Not a single competitive House seat lies within these locations.
Between the lines: The Cook Political Report's elections analyst Amy Walter told me the schedule, developed by White House Political Director Bill Stepien, is a "very strategically smart tour" and also appears to her to basically "concede the House."
Asked to respond to this analysis, the White House declined to comment. A person familiar with the situation pointed out that Trump "made six House-only trips during October, all in districts considered to be competitive, outnumbering the Senate trips in the month."
Go deeper: Alexi crunched the 2016 vote numbers for the counties and congressional districts surrounding each of these locations, and found in each case that we have a specific location: It's Trump country in a Trump state.
The wildcard: We were surprised to see Trump do a rally in Ohio, given the Senate race there is not competitive. Our guess is this decision has nothing to do with the Senate race. There's a strategically important governor's race in Ohio that Republicans badly want to win. The Ohio governor plays a huge role in overseeing elections in the state — more so than any other presidential battleground.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Vulnerable Republican incumbents face an awkward question on health care: "You say in your campaign that you're committed to protecting insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions; what do you make of the fact that the Trump Justice Department is currently arguing in court to strike down the law forcing insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions?"
Of the Republicans who replied, their responses were strikingly similar: All want to mandate that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions, but only one of them disavowed the Justice Department's position.
The outlier: The only Republican on that list who said he opposed the Justice Department's position was Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman. His spokesman Tyler Sandberg told Alexi "he's opposed to any attempt to get rid of pre-existing condition protections" and pointed out that he voted against the Republican Obamacare repeal bill due to the addition of an amendment weakening pre-existing condition protections.
Why this matters: Polls consistently show health care is a top issue for midterm voters. Republicans are already on their heels on this issue — a reversal from the previous eight years of easy campaigning against Obamacare — and the Justice Department position pits them face-to-face with an inconvenient reality.
President Trump has interviewed Office of Management and Budget official Neomi Rao to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. circuit court, Axios has learned.
Why this matters: Given the power federal agencies have to affect national policy and law, the judges of the D.C. Circuit can have an extraordinary impact over the direction of the country. Because of this, people often refer to the D.C. Circuit as the second-most powerful court in the United States, behind only the Supreme Court.
Behind the scenes: Don McGahn, as one of his last acts, recommended Rao for the job, according to sources close to the situation.
Yes, but: A third source, who is close to Trump, told me late this week that it seemed like he was reconsidering his initial judgement of Rao and may still pick her. Spokespeople for the White House and the Office of Management and Budget declined to comment for this story.
Congressional Republicans don't seem to have the pharmaceutical industry's back the way they used to — and the way the industry might expect them to, after donating millions of dollars to GOP campaigns, cycle after cycle.
The big picture: The Trump administration rolled out a drug-pricing proposal last week that pharma hates — and that, on paper, congressional Republicans should hate, too, Sam Baker and I report.
"People are definitely kind of blindsided by it. They think, 'Oh my gosh, this is so much worse than we were expecting'," a pharmaceutical lobbyist told Axios.
Between the lines: Pharma industry PACs have given almost $9 million to Republican candidates this cycle, according to Center for Responsive Politics, on top of $11 million in 2016, and $9 million in 2014.
Yes, but: For pharma companies, betting on Republicans is still safer than helping out Democratic campaigns.
The bottom line: "This is what is so surprising, is it's a midterm play for Republicans. Because they are so desperate to get well on health care that they actually want to be talking about major drug pricing initiatives," the industry lobbyist said.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto described the emotional state of his city following Saturday morning's shooting attack that killed 11 people attending services inside a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Postscript: Over on NBC's "Meet the Press," Peduto told host Chuck Todd he disagreed with President Trump's suggestion that arming houses of worship instead of enacting stronger gun control laws would stop mass shootings like the one at the Tree of Life Synagogue.
The House and Senate remain on recess until the midterm elections.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
Haig on left, Hartmann on right. Photos: Dirck Halstead/LIFE/Getty Images, Frank Johnston/The Washington Post/Getty Images
I loved the story by the New York Times' Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers about the physical altercation between John Kelly and Corey Lewandowski outside the Oval Office in February. "The near brawl — during which Mr. Kelly grabbed Mr. Lewandowski by the collar and tried to have him ejected from the West Wing" sounded like a fairly bizarre and perhaps unprecedented scene.
Turns out not. Tevi Troy, a presidential historian and former Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, emailed me his reaction: