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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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
It's All Politics

Romney's Praise Of Gingrich Leads Fox Anchor To Call Politics 'Weird, Creepy'

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith provided the sure-to-go-viral moment of the day with some commentary he made after he read aloud a statement issued by the Mitt Romney campaign after Newt Gingrich officially ended his campaign Wednesday for the GOP nomination.

Smith said:

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4:58pm

Tue May 1, 2012
It's All Politics

Politics Not Far From Obama, Romney On Bin Laden Anniversary

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 7:20 am

President Obama gets a chance to showcase his national security credentials during a surprise visit to Afghanistan on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of the U.S. military.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

On the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs, there were two contrasting scenes to consider.

One was of President Obama in Afghanistan on a surprise visit, speaking to U.S. troops as their commander in chief in the nation whence the SEALs departed for their successful raid into Abbottabad in neighboring Pakistan.

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6:19pm

Mon April 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama 'Forward' Video: President's Case For Re-Election In A Nutshell

A video released Monday by President Obama's re-election campaign looks a whole lot like an abridged version of something you might expect to see in a prime-time slot at the Democratic National Convention.

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1:53pm

Mon April 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Pulls Jimmy Carter Into His Bin Laden Fight With Obama

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 2:19 pm

Mitt Romney fished for votes among fishermen in Portsmouth, NH, April 30, 2012.
Jim Cole AP

Former President Jimmy Carter was no doubt minding his own business, which these days usually means being some place in the world doing good works, when his name came up in the 2012 presidential campaign, and not in a good way.

Talking to reporters Monday in New Hampshire, the unofficial GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, uttered Carter's name in defending himself against Democratic attempts to raise doubts about whether Romney, like President Obama, would have ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

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5:48pm

Thu April 26, 2012
It's All Politics

Biden Foreign-Policy Counterattack On Romney Highlights GOP Challenge

Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 4:24 pm

Vice President Joe Biden, March 2012.
Madalyn Ruggiero AP

Foreign policy isn't expected to pave the path to the White House in 2012 though, of course, that could all change in a literal flash.

Still, a president seeking re-election against a backdrop of a lackluster economy would be remiss if he didn't stress his unique role as the nation's top policymaker in the international relations arena and the military's commander-in-chief.

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6:29pm

Wed April 25, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama, Romney Face Uphill Fights As General Election Starts For Real

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 7:52 pm

AP

The Republican primaries were certainly fun while they lasted, especially for political journalists and junkies for whom the intramural fighting generated no shortage of interesting and sometimes bizarre story lines.

But President Obama's campaign aides were all but certain from the start that they would be running against Mitt Romney. That was one of the few areas of agreement between the former Massachusetts governor's campaign and the Obama people.

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2:53pm

Wed April 25, 2012
It's All Politics

RNC Seeks To Contrast Serious Romney With Slow Jammin' Obama

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 2:54 pm

President Obama's urbane coolness, viewed by many as an attractive feature of his personality, was part of the joke Tuesday night when he appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, including in the "slow jammin' the news" segment.

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1:29pm

Tue April 24, 2012
It's All Politics

3 Things To Watch For In Tuesday's Primaries

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 2:15 pm

A man prepares to put in place an informational sign for voters on primary day 2012 in North Greenbush, N.Y.
Mike Groll AP

(Revised at 2:03 pm ET with new Ron Paul-Pennsylvania material.)

The contest for the Republican presidential nomination may be over for all practical purposes, with Mitt Romney the all-but-certain GOP nominee. But that doesn't mean there's nothing of interest in Tuesday's primaries.

Voters are going to polls in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and New York, though turnout is expected to be low. Still, here are four things to watch for.

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5:21pm

Mon April 23, 2012
It's All Politics

Social Security, Medicare Reaction Reflects Partisan, Election-Year Divide

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 5:34 pm

Senior citizens protest threatened cuts to Social Security and Medicare in Chicago in November 2011.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Like a mirror that reflects one's ideology back at the viewer, and no more so than during a general-election year, the political players saw what they wanted, and what they thought was most politically useful to their side, in the reports Monday by the Social Security and Medicare trustees on the long-term prospects for those two entitlement programs.

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6:52pm

Wed April 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama, Romney Use Opposing Versions Of 'Are You Better Off?'

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 7:37 pm

Mitt Romney's campaign plans on using variations of Ronald Reagan's "Are you better off?" question frequently over the next six months.
Chuck Burton AP

Ever since Ronald Reagan posed the killer question to voters in a 1980 debate with then-President Jimmy Carter — "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" — challengers to incumbent presidents have tried to repeat the Reagan magic.

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5:19pm

Tue April 17, 2012
It's All Politics

Former Romney Adviser: Veep Hunt Could Lead To Portman

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 5:34 pm

Republican strategist Mike Murphy, November 2007.
Alex Wong AP

Mike Murphy, the very quotable Republican political consultant who has listed some of his party's biggest names as clients, including John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, has some advice on picking a vice presidential running mate.

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5:35pm

Mon April 16, 2012
It's All Politics

Michelle Obama: 'I Don't Have A Stressful Job. He Does'

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 2:00 pm

First lady Michelle Obama at a "Joining Forces" event at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Alex Brandon AP

To White House outsiders and maybe even more than a few insiders, the life of a first lady would seem to be a fairly anxiety-inducing one. After all, there is no greater fish bowl than 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So NPR's Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More, asked First Lady Michelle Obama during an interview scheduled to air Tuesday how she deals with the pressures of being both the president's wife and the mother of school-age children.

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2:24pm

Fri April 13, 2012
It's All Politics

Polarization, GOP's Rightward Shift, Fills Political Scientist With Dread

This graph shows the ideological movement for both parties in the House. Note the steady shift towards conservatism among Republicans.
voteview.com

When President Obama recently complained to news media executives about their ostensibly even-handed "pox on both of your houses" coverage of the partisan battles in Washington, it might have seemed like, well, a partisan shot from a Democratic president.

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2:14pm

Wed April 11, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Camp Doesn't Want General-Election Voters To Forget Primary Romney

When Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom indicated with his famous (or infamous) Etch-A-Sketch simile that the former Massachusetts governor would reset his campaign strategy and message after the Republican primaries in order to appeal to general-election voters, Democrats said they planned to make that shift difficult if not impossible for the presumptive GOP nominee.

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11:41am

Wed April 11, 2012
It's All Politics

4 Reasons Obama Keeps Pushing Buffet Rule

President Obama, with millionaires and their assistants, makes a point on the "Buffett Rule" in Washington, DC, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

For President Obama, the Buffett Rule is the political equivalent of a Swiss army knife, a tool he clearly intends to use any number of ways as he fights to be re-elected and deny the White House to Republican Mitt Romney.

From the Democrats' perspective, the proposed rule, which would require that superwealthy taxpayers with at least $1 million in taxable income after deductions, pay taxes at a minimum 30 percent rate, has so much going for it, they can hardly stop talking about it.

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3:55pm

Tue April 10, 2012
It's All Politics

What Santorum's Exit Means For Romney

Mitt Romney now can work on getting the entire Republican Party behind him and focus singly on attacking President Obama's record.
Steven Senne AP

That sigh of relief you heard coming from the direction of Boston was Mitt Romney's campaign operation, now that it no longer needs to expend any more resources trying to drive Rick Santorum from the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.

Aside from the money and brainpower that the Romney campaign can now target at President Obama as it rotates fully to general-election-campaign mode, the GOP front-runner has, even more important, finally freed himself from his last significant anyone-but-Romney challenger.

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11:51am

Mon April 9, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Calls Negative Ad Ceasefire As Santorum Tends To Sick Daughter

Mitt Romney's suspension of negative ads against Rick Santorum shouldn't hurt and could help the former Massachusett governor's likeability ratings.
Steven Senne AP

Updated at 2:23 pm: Rick Santorum's daughter, Bella, is expected to be released from the hospital by Monday evening given the improvement in her condition, said Alice Stewart, spokeswoman for the former senator's campaign.

Assuming her release goes as planned and Santorum, who took a break from his campaign to tend to his daughter and for the Easter holiday, returns to the trail, that would clear the way for the Romney campaign to resume its negative advertising against Santorum.

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6:35pm

Fri April 6, 2012
It's All Politics

Partisan Fight For Female Vote Uses Monthly Jobs Report As Weapon

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 7:18 pm

Job seekers in Boston in February, 2012.
Elise Amendola AP

With the possibility that women voters might prove decisive in November's presidential election, each major party is obviously looking for opportunities to argue why its policies are better for women and the opposition's worse. The latest came Friday with the release of the March jobless figures.

The report was a surprise on the downside because the economy added far fewer jobs for the month — 121,000 — than economists had forecast even as the jobless rate declined a tenth of a percentage point to 8.2 percent.

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6:37pm

Thu April 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama's Signing Of JOBS Act Likely Won't Dim GOP Charge He's Anti-Jobs

By signing the JOBS Act, President Obama likely didn't buy himself much relief from GOP charges he's hurt job creation.
Carolyn Kaster AP

President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (or JOBS) Act into law Thursday, legislation meant to make it easier for entrepreneurs to get investor financing that helps them add workers. Does that mean it will be harder for Republicans to frame Obama as anti-jobs?

"Well, if it works, it will make it harder," said Craig Shirley, a longtime conservative political strategist and writer who runs a Washington, D.C.-area public-affairs firm.

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3:16pm

Thu April 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Craigslist Founder Takes On Voter ID Laws By Infographic

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 3:19 pm

It's about a week after it became available on the Internet but no less interesting now than it was then is the infographic by Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, which skewers voter ID laws cropping up in various states. One of his points — the cure is far worse than the disease.

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9:32am

Thu April 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Thursday Political Grab Bag: Poll Shows Romney Surge In PA

Mitt Romney has taken the lead in voter support in Pennsylvania, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling which shows the Republican frontrunner ahead of Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from the Keystone State, 42 percent to 37 percent. That lead was just on the 4.9 point margin of error, suggesting a tie. That's bad news for Santorum, however, as he dropped six percentage points while Romney gained 17 percent from a month ago.

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