From NBC's Ken Strickland
Forget the conspiracy theories about where President Barack Obama was born: There's evidence just blocks from the White House that the American president was "made in China." And Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has the pictures to prove it.
A bust of Barack Obama was "crafted in China"
During a recent stroll through the National Museum of American History, Sanders discovered that a number of products sold in the gift shop were not made America, but produced in other countries.
"I find it especially disappointing that miniature sculptures of presidents of the United States that are sold in the museum, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Barack Obama were made in China," Sanders wrote in a letter to the museum director.
Miniature sculptures on sale at the National Museum of American History
Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, acknowledged that buying foreign products will not have a "profound" impact on the trade deficit, but added "the symbolism is extraordinary" and "pretty pathetic."
"It appears that a museum owned by the people of the United States, celebrating the history of the United States, cannot find companies in this country employing American workers that are able to manufacture statues of our founding fathers, or our current president."
Sanders' letter was sent yesterday to the museum's director, Brent Glass. The Smithsonian Institution, which overseas the operation of the museum, has yet to respond to Sanders' letter or NBC News for comment.
The senator told the director that one of the major reasons that the unemployment rate in this country is so high "is because it is increasingly difficult to find products in our nation's stores that are manufactured in this country."
"Our national museum should do it's best to be a model in helping us address that crisis situation," Sanders said.
*** UPDATE *** The director of the museum called NBC News to respond to Sanders' letter.
Brent Glass says that "most of the items we offer [in the gift shop] are made in America." He said the directive to vendors who buy merchandise for the store "is to buy American whenever they can."
Glass said he wasn't aware of the circumstances for the miniature presidential statues, but promised he would look into it and report back to Sen. Sanders.
"There are many options in the gift shop if [visitors] want to buy American," Glass said.
He added that he was "aware and sensitive" to the symbolic significance of having presidential items made in China, but continued "the vast majority are made in the United States."