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News Wrap: U.S. Chamber Chief Warns Against Romney Criticism Over Role at Firm

January 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, left the country again today, amid rising tensions with his country’s military. Pakistani officials said it was a day trip to Dubai for a wedding. Zardari spent several weeks in Dubai last month for medical treatment. There has been a growing furor in Pakistan over a leaked government memo that sought U.S. help to rein in the military.

The tone in the U.S. presidential campaign was markedly more subdued today. In a morning statement, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it was foolish for Republicans to attack Mitt Romney’s record as a venture capitalist. And as the day went on, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry pulled back on their public criticism of Romney.

Meanwhile, the front-runner defended the free market system in West Palm Beach, Florida.

MITT ROMNEY (R): I believe in a merit nation, an opportunity nation, where people, by virtue of their education and the hard work and risk-taking and their dreams, maybe a little luck, could achieve great things. And, by the way, as they were successful, they didn’t make the rest of us poorer.

HARI SREENIVASAN: President Obama weighed in at a fund-raiser in Chicago last night. He said Republicans would undo all the good his administration has done.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Everything that we fought for is now at stake in this election. The very core of what this country stands for is on the line. The basic promise that, no matter who you are, where you come from, this is a place where you can make it if you try, that’s at stake in this election.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Obama campaign also reported raising $68 million in the last quarter of 2011 for the president’s reelection and the Democratic Party.

The U.S. economy sent more mixed signals today. First-time claims for jobless benefits surged back up, as businesses let go thousands of temporary holiday workers. But RealtyTrac reported the number of homes entering foreclosure fell last year to the lowest total since 2007.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 21 points to close at 12,471. The Nasdaq rose almost 14 points to close at 2,724.

This was a national day of remembrance in Haiti, two years after the earthquake that killed 316,000 people. Several sites in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince, held memorial services, including this mass near the shattered remains of the National Cathedral. The quake left 1.5 million people homeless, and more than 500,000 people are still living in temporary camps.

A new wave of heavy snow blanketed Anchorage, Alaska, today. Forecasters predicted up to 16 inches. That will put Anchorage on track to have its snowiest winter ever. The record is nearly 133 inches, set in the 1950s. To the southeast, National Guard troops have been helping the city of Cordova dig out. The community on Prince William Sound has had 172 inches of snow just since Nov. 1.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.