Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.

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It's All Politics
4:08 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Trayvon Martin Tragedy Edges Onto Presidential Campaign Trail

President Obama heading to the White House Rose Garden, on Friday, March 23, 2012, where he made his first public comments about the Trayvon Martin.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 5:44 pm

Pressure had been building on President Obama for days to say something about the killing of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer, and on Friday the president finally did.

And almost as soon as he did, some people suspected him of a cynical election-year attempt to appeal to black voters, judging by the reaction by some on social media and conservative sites. Martin was African American, his killer of mixed white and Hispanic parentage.

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It's All Politics
9:46 am
Fri March 23, 2012

Friday Political Grab Bag: Obama Picks Darthmouth President For World Bank...

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 10:28 am

President Obama will nominate Dartmouth College president, Jim Yong Kim, to head the World Bank. A physician and anthropologist by training and global-health expert, Kim's background makes him an out-of-the-box choice. He would become the first Asian American to head the important international funding organization.

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It's All Politics
3:34 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Romney Aide's Etch-A-Sketch Gaffe Won't Be Easily Erased

Rick Santorum beats up Mitt Romney with an Etch A Sketch, figuratively speaking.
Eric Gay AP

Etch A Sketch. Those three little words may become more of a bane to Mitt Romney's campaign than, say, Bain Capital.

As Romney's longtime aide, Eric Fehrnstrom, has learned to his chagrin, those three small words can make a very big difference.

Earlier this month, Fehrnstrom actually made a statement very similar in kind if not wording to what he said Wednesday on CNN.

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It's All Politics
12:59 am
Wed March 21, 2012

With His Big Win In Illinois, Romney Could Regain Nomination Mojo

Mitt Romney greets supporters during an Illinois GOP primary victory party in Schaumburg.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 12:30 pm

If only the rest of the nation were like Illinois, the past few months would have been much less stressful for Mitt Romney.

Illinois delivered a healing balm in the form of a resounding victory for the Republican presidential front-runner in Tuesday night's GOP primary, with Republicans there giving him about half of their votes.

It wasn't a surprise that Romney won. Polls in the run-up to primary day indicated he had a significant lead over his closest rival, Rick Santorum.

Still, the size of his win was impressive — about 12 percentage points.

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It's All Politics
4:48 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Robert DeNiro's Racial First Lady Joke Was A No-No, White House Says

Actor Robert De Niro with his wife, Grace Hightower, in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, 2011.
Michael Tran Getty Images

Maybe Robert De Niro didn't know. Or maybe he forgot.

But when the superstar actor joked at a New York Obama campaign fundraiser Monday evening which Michelle Obama attended about the country not being ready for a white first lady, he got into dangerous territory for President Obama.

According to an Obama campaign pool report, De Niro deadpanned:

"Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?"

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It's All Politics
5:21 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

New Jersey As Good-Government Leader? Believe It

Who knew New Jersey's famous turnpike traverses the state with the nation's most accountable government?
Julio Cortez AP

Originally published on Tue March 20, 2012 10:31 am

New Jersey isn't normally the first state that springs to mind when you're searching for an example of good government. Not even close. In fact, just the opposite.

But the Garden State can now boast that, compared to most other states, it is a democratic (small "d") oasis.

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It's All Politics
3:07 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Rep. Paul Ryan Stokes New Medicare Fight, This Time In Election Year

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

It seems like only yesterday when House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin introduced a federal budget that would change Medicare as we know it.

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It's All Politics
9:25 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Monday Political Grab Bag: Romney Wins In PR; Race Heads To Illinois

Mitt Romney at Charlie Parker's Diner in Springfield, IL, March 19, 2012.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 12:45 pm

Mitt Romney won Puerto Rico's Republican presidential primary Sunday, adding the commonwealth's 20 delegates to his commanding lead over the other candidates as they compete to reach the 1,144 needed for the nomination. Rick Santorum hurt himself with the island's voters by saying English had to become its official language before it could achieve statehood.

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It's All Politics
3:55 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

Obama Spreads (Tele)Phony Story About Long-Dead President

President Rutherford B. Hayes actually was a big fan of the telephone, despite President Obama's assertion otherwise.
AP

Poor Rutherford B. Hayes. It wasn't bad enough that the 19th president, a Republican, was called "His Fraudulency" by Democrats during his one term in office (1877-1881) because of the unusual circumstances of how he "won."

Now, the current occupant of the White House, President Obama, was spreading a most assuredly inaccurate story, according to experts, about Hayes' reaction to an early telephone.

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It's All Politics
1:30 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

Wisconsin Target Of Recall Decides To Quit Instead

A Wisconsin GOP lawmaker facing a recall election called it quits Friday and said she hopes the state can get past scenes like this gathering of protesters in Madison on March 10, 2012.
Barbara Rodriguez AP

What happens if the target of a recall election decides to call it quits before the actual election?

If it's Wisconsin, the recall election apparently happens anyway.

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It's All Politics
7:02 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Biden Calls Out Romney, Gingrich By Name For Opposing Auto Bailout

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 12:52 pm

Vice President Biden took on the traditional role that has been reserved to those who have previously served in his position as the political wing man for a president seeking re-election: he went on the attack.

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It's All Politics
2:50 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Romney's Wins In Obama's 2008 Counties Doesn't Necessarily Mean Much

Mitt Romney shakes hands with hotel staffers in the Cleveland suburbs in February.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 6:20 pm

What does it mean that in 2012 Mitt Romney has, during the Republican presidential primaries, done well in some of the same Ohio and Michigan urban-suburban counties that President Obama won in 2008 — a pattern likely to be repeated in some upcoming primaries?

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It's All Politics
9:31 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Thursday Political Grab Bag: Obama And UK's Cameron Showcase Unity

The Obamas and Camerons at the White House before a state dinner for the British prime minister.
Susan Walsh AP

In the wake of the alleged killing of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he wants all NATO troops moved onto existing large bases and a faster handover of security responsibilities to his nation's forces. This dovetails with growing opinion in the U.S. that the withdrawal of American troops happen sooner than scheduled.

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It's All Politics
4:28 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Gingrich's SuperPAC Ally Tells How His Candidate Can Still Be Nominee

Newt Gingrich could still be his party's salvation, according to a former aide who advises a pro-Gingrich superPAC.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 6:02 pm

Time for a few unconventional thoughts:

  • Newt Gingrich is still in good enough shape to win the Republican presidential nomination at a brokered convention in Tampa.
  • By staying in the race, Gingrich actually helps, not hurts, his rival Rick Santorum.
  • Gingrich's situation resembles Abraham Lincoln's in 1860.
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It's All Politics
1:49 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Pew Poll: Good News, Bad News For Romney

The cacophony of hoots being directed at Mitt Romney Wednesday for his poor performances in Alabama and Mississippi primaries is somewhat curious, especially since it was the conventional wisdom as recently as last week that the Deep South was likely to be very tough going for him.

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It's All Politics
6:00 am
Tue March 13, 2012

Five Things To Watch For In Tuesday's Alabama, Mississippi GOP Primaries

Can Mitt Romney finally win a Southern state Tuesday? Here, Romney greets Alabamans at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mobile on Monday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 9:56 am

Alabama and Mississippi will play unaccustomed high-profile roles Tuesday as each candidate for the Republican presidential nomination looks to voters in those states to give his candidacy a boost — toward inevitability, if you're Mitt Romney, or just one more week if you're Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich.

So voters and analysts alike will be watching the two states closely Tuesday to see whether Republicans there chose to go with the most electable candidate, who many say is Romney, or the most conservative, a label Santorum and Gingrich say fits them.

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It's All Politics
2:43 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Presidential Speeches: Sound And (Partisan) Fury, Signifying Not Much

When presidents give major set-piece speeches, they're mainly engaged in exercises in futility since a commander-in-chief's high-flown rhetoric rarely shifts voter attitudes for long.

Indeed, the exercise could even be more negative than neutral since speeches by presidents advocating specific policy not only leave citizen unswayed but can fire up political opponents in the other party, according to Ezra Klein in an essay in the New Yorker.

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It's All Politics
9:27 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Monday Political Grab Bag: Rising Gas Prices Hurt Obama's Ratings Etc

Some voters believe President Obama has the power to lower gas prices and are blaming him for higher costs.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Rising gas prices have many voters looking for someone to blame and President Obama appears to be as good a target as anyone, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll suggests, with the president's approval rating falling from 50 percent last month to 46 percent recently.

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It's All Politics
9:27 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Friday Political Grab Bag: Economy Adds More Jobs Than Experts Forecast Etc

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 9:50 am

In another sign that the economic recovery is deepening, the U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February, according to the Labor Department, more than what many economists had expected. Meanwhile, the jobless rate of 8.3 percent remained unchanged from the prior month even as more workers entered the workforce. The news kept alive a trend helpful to President Obama re-election chances.

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It's All Politics
1:07 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Obama Campaign Releases 1st-Term Trailer As It Hopes For Sequel

President Obama's campaign on Thursday issued the trailer for a documentary about his time in the White House. Call it "President Obama: The Movie."

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It's All Politics
1:15 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Romney Aides: We Can Count To 1,144; Santorum, Gingrich Can't

Mitt Romney, with wife Ann, talks to reporters after voting in the Massachusetts primary in Belmont, Mass, Tuesday, March 6, 2012.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 10:34 am

Just as they promised they would on Super Tuesday evening, Mitt Romney's campaign aides spent Wednesday explaining why their boss' rivals can't possibly win the Republican presidential nomination and how they're only helping President Obama by not accepting the inevitable and leaving the race.

There was nothing subtle about the title on Romney political director Rich Beeson's memo: "Our Opponents' Last Stand: A Postmortem."

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It's All Politics
12:50 am
Wed March 7, 2012

In Ohio, Kaptur Beats Kucinich; Schmidt Upset By Wenstrup

Rep. Dennis Kucinich thanks his wife Elizabeth during his concession speech, Cleveland, OH, Tuesday, March 6, 2012.
Amy Sancetta AP

The race between two veteran Ohio Democrats, Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Rep. Dennis Kucinich who were redistricted into the same congressional district ended badly for Kucinich who lost to his fellow House Democrat.

Meanwhile, the House Republican Conference will lose Rep. Jean Schmidt, who was defeated by Brad Wenstrup, a podiatrist and Iraq War veteran, in an upset.

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It's All Politics
7:02 am
Tue March 6, 2012

Super Tuesday: 4 Things To Watch

Ten states hold GOP nominating contests on March 6. Here a voter heads to a polling station Tuesday morning in Cambridge, Mass., where former Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to win his home state.
Emmanuel Dunand AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 6, 2012 9:55 am

Super Tuesday 2012 is finally here, with Republican presidential preference contests — a mix of primaries and caucuses — occurring in 10 states from sea to shining sea.

While the 2012 race for the GOP nomination likely won't be over by Wednesday morning, it could seem far closer to being so, especially if Mitt Romney sweeps contests everywhere but, say, Georgia, where the former congressman from the Peach State, Newt Gingrich, is expected to have a good night.

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It's All Politics
3:04 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

New Yorker Cover Puts New Twist On Old Romney Shaggy Dog Story

New Yorker cover

Robert Staake, the cover artist for the New Yorker's March 12 cover took a story that's an oldie but goodie — Mitt Romney strapping the kennel containing Seamus the family dog atop the family car during a vacation road trip — and gave it a new spin with Rick Santorum filling in for the dog.

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It's All Politics
1:56 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Pollster: Romney Surges Despite More GOP Ohioans Agreeing With Santorum

Mitt Romney greets supporters in Youngstown, Ohio, Monday, March 5, 2012.
Gerald Herbert AP

Suffolk University has a new poll out of Ohio that reminds us that in politics as in life, timing is everything; Rick Santorum would have been much better off if Super Tuesday had been two weeks ago.

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It's All Politics
9:26 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Monday Political Grab Bag: Obama Warns That War Talk Helps Iran

President Obama told AIPAC, the influential Israel lobbying group, Sunday that his policy on a potential Iranian nuclear weapon was one of prevention, not containment. And in a warning seemingly aimed at Israeli and U.S.

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It's All Politics
4:18 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Obama Phones His Support To Fluke, Law Student Limbaugh Derided

Law student Sandra Fluke talking to House Democrats, February 23, 2012.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 5:01 pm

In a move certain to bring even more attention to one of the latest media tempests, President Obama on Friday got on the phone to encourage the Georgetown University law student disparaged by conservative radio superstar Rush Limbaugh with misogynistic epithets.

Sandra Fluke, who is also an activist, was about to appear on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports when she took a phone call from the White House. It was the president. As an emotional Fluke explained once she was in front of the cameras with Mitchell:

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It's All Politics
12:43 pm
Fri March 2, 2012

Ohio Poll: Santorum, Romney Tied Days Ahead Of Super Tuesday

Mitt Romney at a town-hall style meeting in Bexley, Ohio, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 1:14 pm

If Rick Santorum has a lead on Mitt Romney in Ohio, it looks like it's not much of one. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Santorum leading Romney by four percentage points, 35 percent to 31 percent.

With the margin of error at +/-4.3 points, the two top rivals for the Republican presidential nomination are essentially tied just days before Super Tuesday when voters in Ohio and nine other states take part in the presidential primary process.

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It's All Politics
8:48 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Friday Political Grab Bag: Obama To Israel, Iran - 'I Don't Bluff'

President Obama tells both Israel and Iran through an interview with The Atlantic that "as president of the United States, I don't bluff," when he leaves open the possibility of a U.S. military strike against Iran's nuclear program.

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It's All Politics
3:07 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Late Conservative Blogger Breitbart Had Impact On Right, Left

In life, Andrew Breitbart was the conservative blogger and provocateur whose sometimes controversial efforts against his ideological adversaries, both real and imagined, made him one of the most polarizing figures on the contemporary political scene.

In death, however, it was clear Breitbart had earned the respect not just of conservatives but of some progressives, too, who may have disagreed with his political views and tactics, but admired his energy and the entrepreneurial spirit with which he waged his campaign.

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