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
7:31 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
2:28 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 4:02 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
11:49 am
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
4:00 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 7:56 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
12:43 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
7:27 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
7:27 am
Fri March 9, 2012

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

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 7:50 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
11:15 am
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 8:34 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
10:50 pm
Tue March 6, 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
5:02 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 7:55 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
1:04 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
11:56 am
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
7:26 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
2:18 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 3:01 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
10:43 am
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 11:14 am

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
6:48 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
1:07 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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It's All Politics
7:40 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Thursday Political Grab Bag: Obama To Call For Ending Oil Firm Tax Breaks

With Republicans blaming his energy policies for higher gas prices and rising fears that U.S. gas prices could hit an average of $5 a gallon, President Obama on Thursday will renew a call Democrats make whenever oil prices rise that Congress repeal tax breaks for oil companies.

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It's All Politics
2:38 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Bob Kerrey (The Man, Not The Bridge) To Run For Senate

Bob Kerrey in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 3:59 pm

(Updated at 5:57 pm ET)

A day after Senate Democrats' chances of keeping control of the chamber seemed to improve with the news that Maine Republican Olympia Snowe was retiring from a seat Democrats seem likely to gain, they got apparently more good news — Bob Kerrey finally decided to run for the soon-to-be-vacated U.S. Senate seat from Nebraska.

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It's All Politics
12:10 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Romney Continues Hitting Santorum For Robocalls To Mich. Democrats

Mitt Romney was captured on the iPad screen held by a man at a campaign event in Toledo, Ohio, on Wednesday.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 2:18 pm

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It's All Politics
4:03 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Senate's Snowe To Retire, Boosting Democrats' Bid To Keep Control

Sen. Olympia Snowe in Augusta, Maine, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.
Joel Page AP

Originally published on Tue February 28, 2012 4:43 pm

Virtually everyone expected Tuesday's big political news to come blowing out of Michigan, the big industrial state, where Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were vying to win that state's GOP presidential primary.

But little Maine managed a national political bombshell of its own with the surprising news that Sen. Olympia Snowe, the 65-year old, three-term moderate Republican senator, won't seek re-election.

From a statement she issued, it appears Washington's partisan bickering just got kind of old for the senator.

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It's All Politics
12:09 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Obama Gives Eventual GOP Nominee Taste Of Michigan Campaign Ahead

President Obama appears to check smartphone as he heads for the Oval Office after speaking to the UAW, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue February 28, 2012 7:03 pm

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It's All Politics
1:06 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Romney's Wealth 'Gaffes' Seem Less About Money, More About Him

Mitt Romney walks with driver Brian Vickers at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.
Rainier Ehrhardt AP

Originally published on Mon February 27, 2012 2:34 pm

By this point, as virtually everyone knows, Mitt Romney has fed a stereotype of himself as an out-of-touch plutocrat through a series of comments the news media have labeled "gaffes."

The word gaffe, of course, as Michael Kinsley once observed, has at least two meanings: the generally used one of something that's a social faux pas, and the Washington one, which the journalist said was "someone telling the truth by accident."

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It's All Politics
7:11 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Monday's Political Grab Bag: Romney, Santorum Tied In Michigan?

On the eve of Tuesday primaries in Michigan and Arizona, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum appeared to be tied in the Great Lakes state though the former Massachusetts governor likely had the momentum and looked to be significantly ahead in the southwestern border state.

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It's All Politics
7:41 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Friday's Political Grab Bag: Romney Leans On Bush's Economic Team Etc.

In a move that likely opens him up to some obvious Democratic attacks, Mitt Romney is turning to members of President George W. Bush's economic brain trust to craft what he hopes will be a winning economic message.

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It's All Politics
12:41 pm
Fri February 17, 2012

With Payroll Tax Cut Done, Is It Do-Nothing Congress Time? It Depends

Expect the rest of 2012 to bring more political symbolism like Thursday's House hearing on birth control and religious freedom than actual passage of major legislation that solves Americans' problems.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 1:59 pm

Now that Congress has passed the extension of the payroll tax cut and jobless insurance benefits for the long-term uninsured, as well as a fix that prevents cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors, there's the sense that not much else will get done on Capitol Hill, it being a general-election year and all.

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It's All Politics
7:26 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Some Friday Political Stories Worth Noting

Those aren't bags of money but they might as well be. President Obama and the DNC raised $29.1 million in January.
Susan Walsh AP

A few of the political stories worth noting this Friday:

Congressional negotiators reached agreement on extensions of the payroll tax cut as well as federal jobless benefits and a "fix" that would prevent Medicare reimbursements to doctors from being cut. But while the House's Republican leaders and the Senate's Democratic leaders were on board, Senate Republicansn weren't. Votes are expected in both chambers Friday.

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It's All Politics
2:19 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Santorum Ally Friess Praises Old-School 'Contraceptive': Aspirin Between Knees

Foster Friess got somewhat off message during an MSNBC interview Thursday.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 8:01 am

Foster Friess, Rick Santorum's billionaire supporter, drew some attention from his candidate Thursday with a comment about contraception that was, to say the least, unusual and surefire fodder for late-night TV comedians .

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It's All Politics
9:23 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Santorum Tax Returns Draw Critics Of His Low Charitable Giving

Rick Santorum speaks to the media Feb. 13, 2012 at the state capitol in Olympia, Washington.
Stephen Brashear Getty Images

Rick Santorum released four years' worth of tax returns Wednesday evening which showed that he is wealthy by any measure.

But his returns may also allow his critics, both those aligned with Mitt Romney, his chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination and those who aren't, to attack the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania for not giving as much to charity as many others at his income level.

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