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Good morning, friends. I’m back after some time off. I owe thanks to my talented colleagues — Suzanne Bates, Brigham Tomco and Gitanjali Poonia — for keeping the On the Trail wheels turning while I was gone.

As for my absence — Politico’s Playbook team beat me to the punch:

WEDDING — Samuel Benson, national political correspondent for the Deseret News and a former intern for Politico, and Keylla Ortega, a Wheatley scholar at Brigham Young University, got married on April 25 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ temple in Manti, Utah. The couple met in England when they were both doing a summer term at Cambridge.

3 things to know

  1. Trump’s Manhattan trial continues this week with added tension: The judge is threatening incarceration if Trump does not comply with a gag order. On Friday, a former Trump adviser testified about leading communications strategy in the wake of bombshell stories related to Trump’s alleged infidelity. Read more here.
  2. Does Israel have “awful” PR? That’s what Sen. Mitt Romney suggested Friday during a conversation with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after Blinken wondered aloud why the world “moved on” from talking about Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Blinken has guided the Biden administration’s response to the Israel-Hamas war amid a wave of pro-Palestinian protests across the country. Read more here.
  3. Trump is walking a tightrope with some evangelicals after announcing his new abortion stance. The “unsung hero” of Trump’s 2016 win, evangelical organizer Chad Connelly, is one of them. But Connelly decided he wouldn’t make an endorsement in 2024 long before Trump announced his new abortion stance: Connelly launched an organization that trains pastors to get involved politically and lead their congregants to vote. Read more here.

The Big Idea

Vice President Mike Lee?

Over the weekend, Republican elites flocked to south Florida for the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting. While there, former President Donald Trump treated a number of his allies to a private lunch — an audition, perhaps, for potential vice presidential candidates.

In true game-show fashion, Trump called up a number of attendees to the stage. According to audio of the meeting obtained by Axios, Trump offered an impromptu analysis of each VP candidate. Per Trump, Sen. J.D. Vance is “one of the great senators.” Rep. Elise Stefanik is “very smart.” North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is “very rich.” Rep. Byron Donalds, who is Black, has “created something very special politically. ... I like diversity. ‘Diversité,’ as you would say. I like ‘diversité.’”

When he reached Sen. Mike Lee, Trump referenced the Utahn’s newly shaved head. “I love your haircut!” Trump said. He later added: “He’s a good man, too.”

If Lee has any aspirations to occupy the West Wing, it’s probably an underwhelming assessment. But Lee — in his third term in the Senate — has shown no interest in a VP position. And this is the first report Trump has included him in such conversations, albeit tangentially. Instead, Lee has been rumored as a potential cabinet appointee should Trump win in November, perhaps as attorney general or solicitor general, the position his father, Rex E. Lee, held during the Reagan administration.

Meanwhile, some of Lee’s Senate colleagues seem to occupy top spots on Trump’s VP shortlist. Vance earned praise. Marco Rubio’s name “is coming up a lot for vice president,” Trump said. Tim Scott “did a good job as a candidate,” but “as a surrogate, he’s incredible.” Scott endorsed Trump for president after ending his own short-lived campaign. Marsha Blackburn is “like the energizer bunny.”

Other attendees, including former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, did not get a shoutout.

When will Trump make his VP decision? It’s anyone’s guess, though it’ll be sometime between now and the Republican convention in Milwaukee in July. Trump does seem to be enjoying the game, with its reality-TV-like finesse.

Read about Trump's potential VP picks

What I’m reading

Florida’s abortion ban is causing both political rifts and panic, even among the state’s Republicans. This dispatch from Hialeah, a conservative and Cuban community in south Florida, is telling, and it shows why abortion may continue to be a difficult issue for Republicans at the ballot box. In Hialeah, many Republican voters are worried about their ability to receive abortions. ‘They May Be Republicans, But They Still Come in for Services’ (Kathy Gilsinan, Politico Magazine)

Biden keeps boasting about his administration’s work to decrease inflation. But new Gallup polling shows that inflation is Americans’ top financial concern. This breakdown of the Gallup poll is helpful, getting to the heart of voters’ top concerns and asking why Biden isn’t taking them more seriously. Americans Are Still Really Worried About Inflation (Eric Boehm, Reason)

Trump in prison? As the former president’s trial continues, the Manhattan judge threatened to put Trump in jail for his repeated violations of a gag order. The monetary fines don’t seem to be working, the judge noted, and if necessary, the court will “impose an incarceratory punishment.” How likely is that? This breakdown is helpful. Trump draws strongest jail threat yet. But sometimes a threat is just that. (Aaron Blake, The Washington Post)

See you on the trail.

Editor’s Note: The Deseret News is committed to covering issues of substance in the 2024 presidential race from its unique perspective and editorial values. Our team of political reporters will bring you in-depth coverage of the most relevant news and information to help you make an informed decision. Find our complete coverage of the election here.