After controversy arose over Ralph Lauren’s 2012 U.S. Olympic uniforms’ Chinese origins, Mitt Romney told ABC’s Jonathan Karl that the issue is “extraneous” to the focus of the games.
“The Olympic games are about the athletes and we’re going to watch the athlete perform and these other matters are extraneous I think to the heart of the matter, which is how well will our athletes do?” Romney said. “I’m not going to get into the uniform issue.”
Like the uniforms in 2012 and in 2002, when Mitt Romney ran the Salt Lake Olympics much of its official memorabilia was manufactured overseas, including a 9/11 commemorative pin and another fashioned in the shape of Romney’s head.
Salt Lake 2002 Olympics paraphernalia obtained by ABC bears “Made in China” and “Made in Bangladesh” stamps.
Two hats, made by Illinois-based American Needle, were manufactured in Bangladesh. A collectible tin and several pins, including a cartoonish Romney likeness and a 9/11 pin bearing the words “United We Stand,” were manufactured in China by Aminco, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s sole licensee for lapel pins, according to the company’s website. A stuffed animal was made in China by Fischer Price, and a Salt Lake 2002 tote bag was made in Taiwan.
While Aminco, the pin-maker, produced licensed memorabilia for the U.S. Olympic Committee, Romney did not work for that organization. He served as president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, which planned the games.
We’ve found no mention of the memorabilia by Romney, a businessman brought in to save the Olympics from scandal and fiscal peril, but he did address the notion of cutting costs by buying from China in another area of Olympic organizing.
When Romney’s Salt Lake Organizing Committee developed the Gateway plaza in Salt Lake City, offering patrons and residents the chance to buy bricks for $100 and have their names inscribed, the committee used granite bricks from China, despite an abundance of granite in the nearby Wasatch mountains, the Salt Lake Tribune reported at the time.
“It’s extraordinary,” Romney told the paper, “but it’s cheaper to get it from China.”