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Susan Walsh / AP

Hail Mary, or Hindenburg? Either way, the White House recognizes it faces long odds to rescue the health-care bill as senators head home for the Fourth.

Axios' Jonathan Swan ferreted out the intriguing news that the White House has reached out to former Trump campaign officials in hopes of ginning up repeal-and-replace rallies in Maine to pressure Sen. Susan Collins, and Nevada to try to retrieve Sen. Dean Heller.

Both are long shots. Three Republican defections kill the bill, and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also looks firmly opposed.

The White House has engaged its political office — led by former Christie aide Bill Stepien — to put localized pressure on Collins and Heller, including appeals from Republican mayors and legislators, and perhaps the rallies.

Sources inside the administration are deeply skeptical that this will work.

  • Behind the curtain: Stepien and HHS Secretary Tom Price joined a Thursday strategy meeting at the White House, led by congressional liaison Marc Short. The mood was bleak. Swan is told Price was the most optimistic person in the room.
  • The meeting's message: They weren't making much progress. Heller, Collins and Paul are the three biggest problems.
  • The day after: Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are looking at fallback options. Trump tweeted yesterday: "If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!"

Sound smart: Momentum matters — in sports, in love and in politics. Momentum is all against the GOP.

  • Maybe Rs are lucky ... Paul Krugman column in N.Y. Times: "Losing health coverage is a nightmare, especially if you're older, have health problems and/or lack the financial resources to cope if illness strikes. And since Americans with those characteristics are precisely the people this legislation effectively targets, tens of millions would soon find themselves living this nightmare."
  • Steve Brill's "9 ways to really fix Obamacare": "Tort reform should be included."
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Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.