Trump on Romney's criticism: "Don't forget, I hit Mitt pretty hard also"

We’re still a few days away from the season finale of “The Apprentice: State Department” but the clip below is a gracious note from Trump. Superficially, it only makes the awkwardness of the Romney situation worse by reminding the country that he’s been throwing hard right hooks at his would-be chief diplomat for awhile too. In practice, though, I think it works to encourage acceptance of Romney by Trump’s base by suggesting that Mitt doesn’t owe him any groveling apology. They had their fight in the schoolyard, Trump got in some good shots, now they’re buds again. The slate is clean(-ish). If he’s fine with it, everyone else should be.

Note what he says about chemistry too. Is that a clue about how the season finale is likely to end?

Here’s what “chemistry” means, by the way:

“President-elect Trump is extremely funny,” Priebus told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday. “He’s an incredible storyteller and he’s very, very funny. And he had Mitt Romney in tears through one of the runs that he had in stories.”

Priebus said the 2012 and 2016 GOP presidential nominees, both from the northeast region of the country, also talked about sports and a mutual love for Tom Brady, the quarterback for the NFL’s New England Patriots.

A lot of us are “in tears” about the Trump/Romney detente, Reince. Incidentally, don’t assume that we know for sure whom all of the finalists for the State job are. Some are well known — Romney, Giuliani, Petraeus, Corker, maybe Bolton — but former Defense Secretary Bob Gates has been spotted not once but twice in Trump Tower the past few days. That’s surprising because, like Romney and most of the Republican establishment, Gates had some withering things to say about Trump during the campaign:

Mr. Trump has been cavalier about the use of nuclear weapons. He has a record of insults to servicemen, their families and the military, which he called a “disaster.” He has declared our senior military leaders “reduced to rubble” and “embarrassing our country” and has suggested that, if elected, he will purge them—an unprecedented and unconscionable threat. As of late, he appears to be rethinking some of these positions but he has yet to learn that when a president shoots off his mouth, there are no do-overs…

At least on national security, I believe Mr. Trump is beyond repair. He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.

A statement like that would normally disqualify someone from serving in the new cabinet but as we’ve learned from the Romney episode, and to his great credit, there’s really no criticism so harsh that Trump won’t forgive and forget it in the interest of finding qualified people. Gates served one president as head of the CIA and two more as Secretary of Defense; he has tons of experience without tons of ideological baggage plus all of the contacts abroad you could want for a diplomat. He’d be an odd pick at State or DHS or any other position for a populist president given his Washington pedigree, but he’d also further reassure Trump skeptics that the new guy will have seasoned people around him offering good advice. I don’t know, though — maybe he’s meeting with Trump purely to offer advice and not to discuss a job. Although it’s odd in that case that Trump would extend a personal invitation to meet him instead of dialing him up.