Update at 7:02 p.m. ET - The USOC and Ralph Lauren, which makes the uniforms, announced Friday night they would start making the uniforms in the U.S. for the 2014 winter games. Read about that here.
Original Post – Neither the White House nor Mitt Romney believe the U.S. Olympic Team’s “Made-in-China” uniforms need to be replaced with American-made apparel ahead of the London Games later this month.
Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who built his political career off overseeing the 2002 Utah Olympic games, told ABC’s Jonathan Karl there are more important things on which to concentrate.
KARL: We broke a story here at ABC about the Olympic team uniforms being made in China. Few people have closer connections to the Olympics than you, in fact your wife Ann even has a horse in this Olympics. What do you think? should those uniforms be made in the USA?
ROMNEY: You know, I’m not going to weigh in on that. I’m sure the Olympic committee has sponsorship agreements and such that are involved in something of this nature. 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? How much can we support them and their effort to bring home the gold.
KARL:Well what about the team riding Ann’s horse? Would you encourage them to be wearing made in the USA uniforms?
ROMNEY: I’m not going to get into the uniform issue. There are big issues associated with the Olympics: the security of the games, the readiness of our athletes and that’s what I’m going to focus on, hopefully when I get to cheer on the people who are going to be supporting and representing our country.
President Obama’s spokesman felt the same way earlier in the day.
“Maybe for future Olympics, those kinds of things should be considered,” deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One en route Norfolk, Va., this morning.
“The United States Olympic Committee has said that they are a—they are privately funded. This isn’t a government decision,” he said.
Earnest suggested President Obama would prefer to see the team outfitted in outfits stamped with “Made in the USA,” noting “the president’s views on the high quality of American-made products is well known. It’s something he talks about extensively. That includes American-made clothing.”
But, echoing the position of the USOC, Earnest said the administration doesn’t want the uniform controversy to “distract from the story of young Americans…who spent a good portion of their lives preparing to compete on the international stage.”
Read more about the uniforms and the lawmakers that want to burn them here.