UPDATE: 7/17, 11:15 a.m. -- HuffPost has confirmed the authenticity of the photo published on Daily Kos.
WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney was noticeably unwilling Friday to engage in a controversy around the manufacturing of U.S. Olympic uniforms in China, despite criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike.
Congress was up in arms Thursday over the discovery that the U.S. team's uniforms for the opening ceremony of this year's Olympic games were manufactured in China -- snubbing the nation's textile industry at a time when it has yet to recover from the economic downturn.
For the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who has repeatedly promised on the trail to "get tough" on China, opposing the manufacturing seemed a likely stance, except that while at the helm of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Romney outsourced the production of torchbearer uniforms to Burma.
For Romney, the 2002 Olympics anecdote represents another instance of outsourcing under his stewardship, as President Barack Obama's reelection team continues to assail him for shipping jobs overseas while at private equity firm Bain Capital. It also exposes an embarrassing oversight in allowing the uniforms to be manufactured in Burma, which until just last year was controlled by a brutal military regime.
According to reports in 2002, the decision to outsource the torchbearer uniforms to Burma caused an uproar among human rights advocates and trade groups. It prompted the head of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions to write a letter to the International Olympic Committee, stating that "No responsible organization or body should make use of products originating in Burma."
The American Anti-Slavery Group and the Free Burma Coalition launched a campaign to protest the uniforms and called on the IOC to apologize and “promise to never support -- indirectly or directly -- the Burmese regime."
Torchbearers, too, were shocked to see the “Made in Burma (Myanmar)” label on their tracksuits. "When I looked at the label for the uniform, I went nuts,” said 2002 torchbearer Susan Bonfield in an interview with the Guardian. “When you are sending work representing the U.S. to a military dictatorship, I have an issue with that."
More than 10,000 runners wore the uniforms, which are pictured on Daily Kos, while carrying the Olympic torch to the Winter Games. HuffPost has confirmed the authenticity of the photo of the uniforms.
Perhaps most embarrassing, after receiving emailed protests from more than 1,000 activists, the media relations department at the Salt Lake Organizing Committee confused Burma and Myanmar as two separate countries.
"The torch relay clothes were NOT made in Burma. They were manufactured in Myanmar," the organizing committee responded. "In fact they were made in the exact same factory that produces clothes for GAP, North Face and other major clothing labels."
Both Gap and North Face denied at the time that they purchase products manufactured in Burma.
After activists correctly identified Burma and Myanmar as the same country, the committee apologized for what it referred to as “misinformation” and confirmed that both the pants and top of the uniform were produced at a textile plant in Burma/Myanmar.
The Romney campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
A PHOTO OF THE UNIFORM CAN BE SEEN BELOW (courtesy of TX Freethinker/DailyKos):
With A Little Help From My Friends (Joe Cocker)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/mitt-romney-will-not-repu_n_1551540.html" target="_hplink">(May 28, 2012) --</a></strong> Despite a resurgence of <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/25/mitt-romney-s-new-bff-donald-trump.html" target="_hplink">Donald Trump's birther claims</a>, Romney refused to repudiate the billionaire, who has been helping with his 2012 campaign efforts. "You know, I don't agree with all the people who support me ... I need to get 50.1 percent or more and I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people," Romney said. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Who Let The Dogs Out (Baha Men)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/mitt-romney-seamus_n_1429925.html" target="_hplink">(April 16, 2012) -- </a></strong> In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Romney discussed the political fallout over strapping his dog Seamus to a car roof. He admits that he probably would not do it again. (Handout)
It's The End Of The World As We Know It (R.E.M.)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/mitt-romney-medicare-president-obama_n_1403267.html" target="_hplink">WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 4, 2012) --</a></strong> Speaking before the Newspaper Association of America, Romney attacked Barack Obama on his health record, claiming the president "has taken a series of steps that end Medicare as we know it." (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
For The Love Of Money (The O'Jays)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/mitt-romney-i-made-a-lot-of-money_n_1345516.html" target="_hplink"><strong>NEW YORK, N.Y. (March 14, 2012) -- </strong></a> Romney became testy on Fox News while discussing his appeal to lower-income voters. On the same day, Occupy Wall Street protesters staged a demonstration outside Mitt's Waldorf Astoria hotel fundraiser. (Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
People Are Strange (The Doors)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/mitt-romney-south_n_1334478.html" target="_hplink">PASCAGOULA, Miss. (March 9, 2012) --</a></strong> While on the trail in Alabama and Mississippi, Romney got in touch with his Southern side, learning how to say "y'all" and liking his grits. With those new experiences in hand, he admitted that "strange things are happening to me." (Photo: AP/Evan Vucci)
Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/mitt-romney-cadillac_n_1299740.html" target="_hplink"><strong>DETROIT, Mich. (Feb. 24, 2012) -- </strong></a> While speaking before the Detroit Economic Club at Ford Field, Romney listed not two, not three, but four American-made cars that he and his wife, Ann, owned. Among the vehicles: "a couple of Cadillacs." (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
It's The Hard-Knock Life (Annie & The Orphans)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/mitt-romney-very-poor_n_1246557.html" target="_hplink">TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2012) --</a></strong> In an interview with CNN, Romney noted that he is "not concerned about the very poor," citing the social safety net for that segment of the populace. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
America The Beautiful
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/mitt-romney-america-the-beautiful-_n_1243908.html" target="_hplink"><strong>THE VILLAGES, Fla. (Jan. 31, 2012) --</strong></a> On the eve of Florida's primary, Romney led his supporters in a singing of the patriotic song. (Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
Successful (Drake, Lil Wayne)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/19/mitt-romney-tax-returns_n_1217708.html" target="_hplink"> <strong>CHARLESTON, S.C. (Jan. 19, 2012) -- </strong></a> During CNN's GOP debate, Romney refused to commit to disclosing his tax returns, offering no apologies for his success. (Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
Bye Bye Bye ('N Sync)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/09/mitt-romney-i-like-being-able-to-fire-people_n_1194115.html" target="_hplink"><strong>NASHUA, N.H. (Jan. 9, 2012) -- </strong></a> In a speech about insurance options, Romney tells audience members, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me." (Photo:AP/Charles Dharapak)
Don't Know Why (Norah Jones)
<strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/28/mitt-romney-embraces-climate-change-denial_n_1063905.html" target="_hplink">PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Oct. 27, 2011) --</a></strong> Back in June 2011, Romney said humans are somewhat tied to climate change. By October, he had reversed course, saying "We don't know what causes climate change." (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)