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Romney rounds up backing among key Republican donors

Mitt Romney appeared Thursday to be rapidly consolidating support among some of the Republican Party’s most sought-after uncommitted donors, who have joined Bush administration veterans and other stalwarts of the Republican establishment in backing the former Massachusetts governor as the Republican presidential field settles.

Those who have committed to Romney include James B. Lee Jr., the vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase, who raised more than $500,000 for John McCain in 2008; Paul Singer, hedge fund founder and conservative philanthropist; and John A. Catsimatidis, the New York businessman and supermarket magnate.

“As all Americans would agree, ‘It’s the economy, stupid,’” Catsimatidis said Thursday. “Romney is smart enough, business-savvy enough, and has common sense to fix the economy.”

All three were among the top supporters of Gov. Christopher J. Christie of New Jersey, whose decision this week to forgo a presidential bid set off a furious lobbying campaign by Romney and his supporters to lock down Christie’s backers, many of them leading Wall Street figures.

—Nicholas Confessore and Ashley Parker, The New York Times

Some unemployed find fault in extension of jobless benefits

Dan Tolleson, a researcher and writer with a PhD in politics, has been out of work since 2009, except for brief stints as a driver. Still, he opposes President Barack Obama’s call for Congress to renew extensions on unemployment benefits.

Tolleson’s objection to a policy that would probably benefit him shows just how divisive the question has become of providing a bigger safety net to the long-term jobless, a common strategy in recessions.

Obama wants to continue offering benefits for an extended period of time, a maximum of 99 weeks, as is now the case. The measure is part of his jobs bill, which he once again called on Congress to pass in a news conference Thursday.

If the extension is not renewed, benefits for more than 2.2 million people will be curtailed by mid-February, according to the Department of Labor. The Obama administration estimates that with no extensions, a total of 6 million people will run out of benefits over the course of next year.

—Shaila Dewan, The New York Times

Adviser backs Europe’s plan to charge airlines for emissions

BRUSSELS — The European Union won a preliminary victory Thursday for its plan to charge the world’s biggest airlines for their greenhouse gas emissions even as international opposition to the plan grew fiercer and support among European countries weakened.

The opinion by the advocate general at the European Court of Justice strongly endorsed the push to include global airlines in its Emissions Trading System. The system already covers other heavy industries and represents Europe’s boldest step yet to lead the world in efforts to control climate change.

The opinion also dealt a significant blow to the global airline industry’s effort to avoid being required, starting Jan. 1, to become part of a system that it argues will be ineffective in cutting carbon emissions and lead to higher ticket prices.

The Air Transport Association of America, which brought the case with three large U.S. airlines, said it was disappointed but that the opinion “does not mark the end of the case.” It said the final opinion still could “vary from the preliminary opinion.”

—James Kanter, The New York Times