Blumenthal weighs in on Olympic apparel

There is obvious symbolism in the origin of a U.S. Olympian’s uniform, less so in the suit worn by a U.S. senator as he talks about the importance of providing business for American apparel makers.

Wearing a dark business suit, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal held a press conference in Hartford on Friday to publicize his role in trying to give American manufacturers a shot at providing apparel and equipment used by U.S. Olympians.

He said the Olympians’ uniforms and equipment “should be made in America, to every extent possible.” In the case of equipment, he would like to see Olympians have to sign a document explaining why those are foreign-made.

Blumenthal was responding to the controversy over news that much of the apparel worn by the Olympians was made in China. As a result, Ralph Lauren and the USOC have announced they will go American for the 2014 Olympics.

Aside from the symbolism of having U.S. athletes wearing American clothing on an international stage, Blumenthal said the buy-American push can help with U.S. jobs, even in an apparel industry that long ago went off shore.

“There is a profoundly significant larger point, which is we can provide incentives, whether contracts or tax credits or other kinds of monetary attractions that have real driving force to bring jobs back, to make sure plants and facilities are located here,” he said.

Blumenthal could not immediately say how many U.S. apparel makers were ready to take advantage of a made-in-the-USA rule, nor was he certain if the U.S. military now meets the standards he would apply to Olympians.

As for his own suit, Blumenthal smiled and acknowledged, “I don’t know.”