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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3:33pm

Tue June 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Puts Distance Between Him And Himself On Public-Worker Hiring

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 6:22 pm

Fox News screen grab

Mitt Romney seemed pretty adamant last week when he said taxpayers didn't want any more teachers, firefighters and police officers, suggesting that they wanted to see government at all levels shrink.

But given the chance during a Fox News appearance Tuesday to repeat the bold statement of just a few days ago, the all-but-official presidential nominee essentially took a pass.

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1:08pm

Tue June 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Liberal Group Excitedly Eyes Millions Of Potential Latino Voters

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 1:40 pm

It's a given that Latino voters are viewed by both political parties as critical to the the 2012 general election and that polling shows President Obama, and Democrats generally, enjoying a significant advantage with that such voters.

That reality prompted Mitt Romney to tell donors at a closed-door Palm Beach, Fla. fundraiser in April, in remarks overheard by reporters:

"We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party." He suggested that if the GOP failed to draw significant numbers of Latino voters away from the Democratic Party "that spells doom for us."

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1:19pm

Fri June 8, 2012
It's All Politics

GOP Slams Obama For Saying Private Sector's 'Doing Fine'

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 4:39 pm

President Obama handed Republicans an unexpected gift which they in turn bashed him with.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP/Getty Images

-- Updated at 4:20 pm ET. See end of post --

President Obama opened himself up to withering Republican attacks Friday via an off-hand statement he made in a brief White House news conference.

Obama seemed to suggest that matters were going swimmingly for the private-sector part of the economy and that it was the reduction of government jobs that was the real problem.

Asked to respond to Republican charges that he was blaming Europe's economic policies for the alleged failure of his own domestic economic policies, Obama said:

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1:35pm

Thu June 7, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Beats Obama In May Fundraising, Recalling Kerry Vs Bush In 2004

Originally published on Thu June 7, 2012 4:38 pm

In May, Mitt Romney's campaign effort raised more than President Obama's for the first time.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

-- Updated at 4:33 pm ET --

No question Republicans supporting Mitt Romney's White House bid should and will be pleased that his campaign raised more money in May than President Obama's effort.

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11:55am

Thu June 7, 2012
It's All Politics

Public Still Mostly Hates Health Law With Supreme Court Ruling Just Weeks Off

If the Supreme Court follows the election returns, its members also no doubt pay attention to opinion polls.

Not that public opinion is the sole driver in the high court's decisions. But the justices certainly are aware of, say, the fact that Americans keep expressing their unhappiness with the Affordable Care Act.

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4:14pm

Wed June 6, 2012
It's All Politics

Bad Day For Unions Made Worse By Calif. Public Pension Initiatives

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 5:02 pm

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders at a rally for supporters of Proposition B Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
Gregory Bull AP

Tuesday was, unquestionably, a very bad day for public-employee unions and not just for the reason that got most of the attention, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's success in fending off an attempt to oust him through a recall election.

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5:42pm

Mon June 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Rekindles Conservative Doubts With Pick To Lead White House Transition

Mitt and Ann Romney sit behind Michael Leavitt and his wife Jacqueline at the February 2008 funeral of Gordon B. Hinckley, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Romney reportedly has chosen Leavitt to lead his transition team.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

With many conservatives already suspecting that he is a conservative of convenience, Mitt Romney apparently hasn't done himself any favors in their eyes with the man he chose to lead his presidential transition.

Politico broke the story Sunday that Romney has chosen Michael Leavitt to oversee the creation of an executive branch in waiting.

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1:30pm

Fri June 1, 2012
It's All Politics

May Jobless Report Keeps Obama On Defensive, Aids Romney's Offense

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 3:04 pm

Military veterans Kris Hummel (l) and Shane Foley, speak with a TSA representative at a May 15, 2012 job fair in Utica, NY.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

How to convince voters that while the economy isn't roaring, the situation is still improving?

That's President Obama's challenge, made more difficult with every passing month where the jobs report disappoints, as on Friday. The latest Labor Department report informed us that only 69,000 jobs were created in May, less than half what analysts had forecast. Meanwhile, the jobless rate ticked up a tenth of a percentage point to 8.2 percent.

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6:55pm

Thu May 31, 2012
It's All Politics

John Edwards' Might've Walked But Trial Still A Warning For Politicians

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 6:48 pm

Former Democratic U.S. Sen. John Edwards (center) and his daughter Cate Edwards leave the federal court Thursday.
Sara D. Davis Getty Images

With a not guilty verdict on one count and the jury deadlocked on five others, it appears John Edwards' federal trial on campaign-finance charges ended with a whimper, certainly from the Justice Department's point of view.

At first blush, it can be argued that how the trial of the former U.S. senator from North Carolina ended may do little to deter politicians. They'll still be able to go forward and rake in money from supporters and, with some sleight of hand, spend that cash on practically anything.

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3:50pm

Thu May 31, 2012
It's All Politics

Bloomberg Becomes Nanny-State Epitome For Some, Giving Obama A Breather

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 4:29 pm

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on large sugary drinks was so hard to swallow it caused some to call him a fascist, a word more often hurled at President Obama.
EMMANUEL DUNAND AFP/Getty Images

If nothing else, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has apparently done President Obama a favor.

His Honor's proposed ban on the sale of supersized sugary fountain drinks in his city made the mayor, at least for some, the epitome of Big Government excess, a place many critics, particularly conservatives, typically reserve for the Obama.

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6:33pm

Wed May 30, 2012
It's All Politics

South Dakotan Hopes Video Stroll Ends In Congress

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 6:37 pm

4:18pm

Wed May 30, 2012
It's All Politics

McCotter Joins Sorry, Brief List Of Incumbents Who Fell Short Of Ballot

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 4:58 pm

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) had the misfortune of being from a state that still requires signatures to get on the ballot.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

In the annals of incumbents failing to get on the ballot, Rep. Thad McCotter's epic fail has some company. Maybe not lots of it since incumbents tend to know, if nothing else, how to work the levers in their favor.

But there have been other incumbents derailed by the requirement to obtain voter signatures to get on ballots even if you sometimes have to go back quite a ways to find them. If it's a wing in the political hall of shame for incumbents, it would be a small room compared, say, to the much larger one for convicted politicos.

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1:39pm

Fri May 25, 2012
It's All Politics

Inhale To The Chief: More Details Of Obama's Pot-Smoking Youth Revealed

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 4:37 pm

A Punahou School yearbook class photo from 1976 that includes the 9th grader who would grow up to become President Obama, but not before he smoked a lot of pot first.
Anonymous AP

The first sneak peak a few weeks back inside journalist David Maraniss' highly anticipated biography of President Obama served up glimpses of the president as a young man in romantic relationships, with information gleaned from early girlfriends.

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1:40pm

Thu May 24, 2012
It's All Politics

Researchers Find Link Between Isolated State Capitals, Corruption

Originally published on Thu May 24, 2012 1:56 pm

Despite the misspelling and grammar error, the tee-shirt message is clear on a protester at the Illinois capitol on May 16, 2012. It cites two former governors now in federal prison for corruption.
Seth Perlman AP

Do state capitals relatively distant from the major population centers have more corruption than those in more densely populated areas?

Researchers report that they have found an intriguing correlation between political corruption in state capitals and population density.

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11:36am

Thu May 24, 2012
It's All Politics

Reagan Blood Update: It's No Longer For Sale

The Reagans at the George Washington University Medical Center today, April 3, 1981.
Anonymous AP

If you had hoped to bid on the medical-lab vial that purportedly contains the dried remains of a blood sample from President Ronald Reagan taken on the day he was nearly assassinated in March 1981, you're out of luck.

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1:33pm

Wed May 23, 2012
It's All Politics

At Auction, Reagan's Blood Is Pricey But A Bargain Versus Fidel-Signed Flag

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 3:30 pm

It's safe to say that when it comes to recent presidents, Ronald Reagan is the most venerated, especially among Republicans but not exclusively so. Some even accuse conservatives of beatifying the 40th president as though he were on the road to sainthood.

So it's not surprising there would be a Reagan relic out there, specifically a medical-lab vial purportedly containing the dried remains of a blood sample taken from the president on the day he was nearly assassinated in March 1981.

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3:38pm

Tue May 22, 2012
It's All Politics

Under Obama, U.S. Gov't Spends At Lowest Rate In Decades, Says Journalist

Originally published on Tue May 29, 2012 11:39 am

President Obama is getting a bum rap on the pace of federal spending, a journalist writes.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

(Updated on 5/23/12 @ 11:55 am. See end of post for Romney campaign response.)

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12:49pm

Fri May 18, 2012
It's All Politics

'President Romney's' First Day In Office: All About Reversing Obama Per Ad

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 1:23 pm

Romney "Day One" ad

6:20pm

Wed May 16, 2012
It's All Politics

White House Sandwiches Followed By Snark, Disappointment, Warnings

Originally published on Wed May 16, 2012 6:44 pm

President Obama's limo in what was, in part, the world's most impressive lunch run, Washington, May 16, 2012.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

President Obama and congressional leaders lunched at the White House Wednesday on sandwiches the leader of the free world purchased during a visit to a Washington, D.C., eatery where he met earlier in the morning with a group of small-business people.

Descriptions of the White House lunch meeting from those on the opposing red and blue teams aware of the details of the discussion made it sound like yet another meeting featuring the nation's top policymakers that you could have accurately described beforehand.

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3:19pm

Mon May 14, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney And Obama: A Tale Of Two Commencement Speeches

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 7:06 pm

President Obama delivers the commencement address Monday at Barnard College in New York.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

As close as the general election is expected to be, virtually everything the presidential candidates do from here until November is about maximizing the turnout of voters in their respective bases without repelling independents or moderates.

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6:07pm

Thu May 10, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney, Boehner Message: It's Still The Economy (Not Gay Marriage), Stupid

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 6:51 pm

House Speaker John Boehner speaks Thursday at his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill. Boehner spoke on a number of topics but would not comment on gay marriage when asked.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Let others get distracted by the news the day before that President Obama now personally supports gay marriage. Mitt Romney and Speaker John Boehner said Thursday they intended to stay on message and keep hitting the president in what they view as his Achilles heel — the economy.

Being that it's also the issue voters have in repeated polls said is most important to them, it was hard to argue with their decision.

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1:46pm

Thu May 10, 2012
It's All Politics

Reaction To Obama's Same-Sex Marriage Suppport: From Sublime To Silly

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:06 am

Reaction to President Obama's bombshell that he now supports gay marriage ran the gamut from profound to lighthearted.
The White House Getty Images

(This post has been revised.)

If anything could predictably induce torrents of Internet reaction, it would be a U.S. president making the surprise disclosure that he supports same-sex marriage. And so it has been following President Obama's Wednesday ABC News interview in which he said he personally backs gay marriage.

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5:37pm

Wed May 9, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Gambles On Gay Marriage

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 10:35 pm

President Obama was on a TV monitor at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, a key historic site of the gay-rights movement.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

The 2012 presidential election was supposed to be about the economy, and even with President Obama's historic decision to make it known Wednesday that he supports same-sex marriage, that is still likely to be true.

But the president's decision to announce in an ABC News interview that he personally backs gay marriage could mean that at least one social issue may take a more prominent role in the election-year spotlight.

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3:22pm

Tue May 8, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Praises Bill Clinton As New Democrat, Bashes Obama As Old One

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 3:25 pm

Mitt Romney praised Bill Clinton as an enlightened centrist Democrat for reforming welfare and other polices and attacked President Obama as a big-government liberal.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

As if further proof were needed that the Republican primaries are essentially dead and buried, here's another piece of firm evidence: Mitt Romney praised former President Bill Clinton in a speech in Michigan Tuesday, and not once but twice.

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6:38pm

Mon May 7, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Town Hall Shows Risks Of Handing Voters The Mic

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 7:07 pm

Mitt Romney poses with a group of supporters at a Euclid, OH town hall-style meeting where some voters didn't exactly help him keep to his themes.
Jae C. Hong AP

In an age when presidential campaigns are typically heavily scripted, town-hall style meetings are anything but.

The upside is that you get the informality of the candidate interacting with regular voters as he or she fields their questions and seems accessible. The downside is you never know what a voter handed the microphone will say.

Mitt Romney, who appears well on his way to becoming the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, got a taste of that risk at a Monday event at a Euclid, OH manufacturing company.

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1:17pm

Mon May 7, 2012
It's All Politics

Some U.S. Conservatives See Obama In France's Hollande

President-elect Francois Hollande waves from a Socialist Party headquarters balcony in Paris Monday May 7, 2012.
Michel Spingler AP

The election of socialist Francois Hollande as France's new president has leached into the U.S. election as some conservatives view it as giving them an opening to attack President Obama who, along with his agenda, has been labeled socialistic by many on the right.

U.S. Senate candidate from Florida, George Lemieux, for instance, took the opportunity of Hollande's win to tweet a warning:

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3:18pm

Fri May 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Surprising No One, Obama, Romney Don't Agree On Meaning Of April Jobs Stats

Originally published on Fri May 4, 2012 4:57 pm

Justin Wolfers, an economist known for, among other things, his sardonic wit, may have made the best comment of the day on the heels of the April jobs report out Friday. He tweeted:

"The worst part of today's jobs report? It provides just enough inane talking points for both sides of politics."

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6:19pm

Thu May 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Political Scientist Asks: Are Obama's Approval Ratings Better Than They Seem?

President Obama's voter-approval ratings certainly have been far from spectacular for much of his presidency, remaining mostly below 50 percent since November of 2009.

But on that dimension he may actually be doing better than it appears, at least based on some statistical modeling of presidential approval ratings conducted by George Washington University political scientist John Sides.

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2:43pm

Thu May 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats Keep Getting Dinged For Hitting GOP On Women's Health, Loans

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 3:00 pm

MoveOn.org

Democrats keep getting dinged by media fact checkers for attacking Republicans for allegedly wanting to strip money from preventive health programs to pay for to keep the interest rates on some student loans from doubling this summer.

But that hasn't stopped progressives from continuing to make the claim. The latest comes in a new full-page MoveOn.org ad in Politico. The ad reads in part:

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6:34pm

Wed May 2, 2012

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