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.

Pages

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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6:08pm

Wed April 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Santorum Adviser Says Calls To Exit GOP Race Are Premature

Rick Santorum at Bob's Diner in Carnegie, Pa., Wednesday.
Jae C. Hong AP

Much of the Republican political establishment, many GOP voters and political analysts were telling Rick Santorum that the time had come for him to end his quest for his party's presidential nomination even before Tuesday when he failed to win any of three primaries.

Those calls had only increased by Wednesday as Santorum fell further behind Romney in the delegate count.

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11:40am

Wed April 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama, Romney Define Each Other As General-Election Fight Starts For Real

Romey-Steven Senne/Obama-Carolyn Caster AP

Incumbent presidents generally try to cast their re-election contest as a choice between the imperfect but well-meaning and effective occupant of the White House and the far worse alternative offered by the rival party.

Challengers, on the other hand, try to frame a presidential race as a referendum on the sitting president whose record nearly always contains missteps, or who can be blamed for trouble in the economy or elsewhere.

In short, whether it's the president or the challenger, the way the game is played requires each to define the opposition as well as himself.

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5:51pm

Tue April 3, 2012
It's All Politics

GSA Clown-Conference Scandal Could Result In Counterproductive Reaction

Former GSA administrator Martha Johnson on Capitol Hill in June 2009.
Harry Hamburg AP

The scandal involving the General Services Administration's by now infamous conference featuring spending on a clown and mind reader is certainly far from the biggest in terms of the overall dollars involved. After all, we're talking about less than $1 million all told.

That's pocket change at the Pentagon, where they can probably find more taxpayer money under the couch cushions.

But it may go down in history as one of the dumbest. A clown and a mind reader at a conference of federal bureaucrats? Really?

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8:58am

Tue April 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Five Things To Watch For Tuesday In Wisconsin, Maryland, DC

Originally published on Tue April 3, 2012 4:28 pm

Mitt Romney should have a very good day Tuesday in the Wisconsin, Maryland and District of Columbia GOP primaries.
Steven Senne AP

Once the Republican presidential primaries entered April, leaving behind March with its run of several Southern contests, the electoral terrain was expected to start looking much better for Mitt Romney.

That seems the case Tuesday, as Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia hold the first primaries in April, with a total of 98 delegates at stake. The front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination is expected to have a very good day. Just how good remains to be seen.

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5:35pm

Mon April 2, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Administration Officials Tripped Up By Clown, Comedian, Mindreader

Originally published on Tue April 3, 2012 11:03 am

iStockphoto.com

A mind reader, a clown and a comedian walk into a bar.

Actually, we don't know about a bar. But we do know they walked into a conference of federal workers held outside Las Vegas in October 2010.

And though it sounds like the start of a joke, it isn't. Someone at the General Services Administration, the federal agency charged with managing government property, actually approved using taxpayer money to pay the three to appear at the meeting.

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1:38pm

Fri March 30, 2012
It's All Politics

RNC's 'Doctored' And Panned SCOTUS Ad Gets Noticed Which Was Goal

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 2:39 pm

RNC wed ad screenshot

The Republican National Committee's anti-"Obamacare" ad which edited audio of this week's Supreme Court oral arguments to accentuate the pause taken by the Obama administration's lawyer as he began his defense of the law, continued to get significant attention Friday, much of it negative, two days after it first went up on YouTube.

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9:33am

Fri March 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Friday Political Grab Bag: Rep. Paul Ryan Endorses Mitt Romney Etc

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 10:21 am

Rep. Paul Ryan gave Mitt Romney the thumbs up Friday. Photo is of Ryan on Thursday, March 29, 2012 on Capitol Hill.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Rep. Paul Ryan's endorsed Mitt Romney Friday just ahead of Tuesday's Wisconsin primary. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ryan said: "I think he deserves to be the nominee. I think he earned it. He has emerged as the best candidate." Ryan, a rising star in the party who many wanted to run for president and who is seen as a vice presidential possibility, said a further protracted primary would weaken the party's chances of beating President Obama in November.

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2:38pm

Thu March 29, 2012
It's All Politics

Democrats Embrace 'ObamaCare' To Defang Word's Bite

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 6:50 pm

Supporters of the health care law have recently embraced the term "Obamacare," a word they once recoiled from.
Charles Dharapak AP

A funny thing happened on the way to the Supreme Court and during the three days the court heard oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act. Democrats embraced the "Obamacare" name the law's foes had used as an epithet for two years to deride the law.

In the political equivalent of what happens in battle when the enemy's captured artillery piece is turned around and the opponent's own shells are fired back at them, Democrats decided to take ownership of a word they once seemed to avoid at all costs.

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12:07pm

Thu March 29, 2012
It's All Politics

Santorum Seeks Some Of Reagan's Jelly Belly Magic

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 11:32 am

A portrait of President Ronald Reagan made from jelly beans at the Jelly Belly Co. visitor center, in Fairfield, Calif., in June 2004. The photo was taken shortly after his death.
STEVE YEATER AP

For some people, few things say "Ronald Reagan" like Jelly Belly candy, apparently. Which explains why Rick Santorum will be holding a rally at the California headquarters of the candy maker Thursday.

Santorum is scheduled to attend a "Rally for Rick" event at the Jelly Belly Candy Co. facility in Fairfield, Calif.

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6:09pm

Wed March 28, 2012
It's All Politics

White House Aide To Skeptical Journalists: No Contingency Plan On Health Law

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 6:20 pm

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest in February 2012.
Susan Walsh AP

No matter how many times he said it Wednesday, the White House press corps just didn't seem to be buying deputy press secretary Josh Earnest's assertion that Obama administration officials weren't working on contingency plans just in case the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act.

They also weren't taking at face value Earnest's defense of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's performance on behalf of the administration Tuesday which has been widely criticized as nervous, halting and all-around less-than-inspiring.

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4:48pm

Wed March 28, 2012
It's All Politics

Rep. Bobby Rush's Hoodie Moment Recalls His Own Family Tragedy

Rep. Bobby Rush who, like Trayvon Martin's parents, lost a son to gun violence.
Anonymous AP

Rep. Bobby Rush made news Wednesday when he raised a hoodie during a House floor speech on the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

The Chicago Democrat was told by Rep. Gregg Harper, the Mississippi Republican presiding over the chamber that he was in violation of the House's rules as Harper repeatedly banged his gavel to get Rush to signal that Rush had gone too far.

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3:02pm

Wed March 28, 2012
It's All Politics

Sign Of The (Wisconsin) Times: Gov. Scott Walker For President

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's future is a bigger deal to many in his state than Tuesday's presidential primary.
Don Gonyea NPR

There's a Republican presidential primary next Tuesday in Wisconsin. But as the accompanying photo taken by NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea in Delafield, Wisc. suggests, a lot of Wisconsinites have other political matters on their minds.

As Don writes in an e-mail:

"Note that the recall coming up on June is the big political story here. Not Tuesdays presidential primary."

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5:59pm

Tue March 27, 2012
It's All Politics

Ex-Clinton Solicitor General, Colorado AG React To SCOTUS Arguments

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 7:12 pm

It was a question that seemed to be one of the most difficult for the current solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr., to answer persuasively, at least to the obvious satisfaction of the conservative justices: If the individual mandate for the purchase of health insurance was found constitutional, what would limit Congress from passing other laws requiring people to buy products from broccoli to cellphones?

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4:15pm

Tue March 27, 2012
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney Rival Digs Up Details On GOP Front-Runner's New Man Cave

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 6:21 pm

Mitt Romney at his beach house in La Jolla, Calif., in 2008.
Denis Poroy AP

Presumably, most people who've been paying attention know by now that Mitt Romney is very, very rich.

But to say that he possesses a fortune estimated at up to $250 million can be too abstract for most people. From an opposing campaign's point of view, better to provide voters with a concrete example of how Romney differs from most people.

And it's hard to find a more concrete example, literally and figuratively, than a supersized basement.

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1:27pm

Tue March 27, 2012
It's All Politics

Boehner Eschews (For Now) GOP's Pile On Of Obama For Open-Mic Comment

For Speaker John Boehner, politics still stops at the water's edge. He refused to criticize President Obama's open-mic comment on missile defense, at least while the president was out of the country.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Listen to any foreign-policy hand who's been in Washington long enough and you'll hear nostalgia for a time when politics stopped at the water's edge.

It was the idea that in the foreign-policy realm, it was best if Democrats and Republicans spoke as one.

At the very least, when an American president traveled abroad, the notion was his political opponents back home should desist from criticizing him was the thinking.

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8:27am

Tue March 27, 2012
It's All Politics

Tuesday Political Grab Bag: Supreme Court Gets To Nub Of Healthcare Issue

Supreme Court oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act entered their second day Tuesday, with the justices moving from the technicalities of the first day to exploring the legal issues at the heart of whether the law is constitutional or not.

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5:30pm

Mon March 26, 2012
It's All Politics

Santorum Would Consider VP Offer From Romney, Man He Daily Derides

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 10:26 am

If on winning the Republican presidential nomination Mitt Romney needs a vice presidential running mate with the proven ability to use a New York Times correspondent as a rhetorical punching bag, Rick Santorum could be available.

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3:09pm

Mon March 26, 2012
It's All Politics

GOP Seizes On Obama Open-Mic Comment To Russian Leader

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 10:26 am

President Obama unwittingly made some not-so-private comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a Seoul, South Korea security summit.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

When your political opponent hands you a gift, take it.

That's precisely what Republicans did Monday after President Obama's comment to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, captured on open microphones at a security summit in South Korea s, that Obama's would have more negotiating room on missile defense after the U.S.'s November elections than before.

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9:43am

Mon March 26, 2012
It's All Politics

Monday Political Grab Bag: Supreme Court Takes Health Care Law's Pulse...

Originally published on Mon March 26, 2012 9:45 am

Three days of historic Supreme Court arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act started Monday in a case that could decide the fate of the controversial health-care law. A new CBS News/New York Times poll found that 47 percent of respondents opposed the law while 36 percent approved it.

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10:48am

Sat March 24, 2012
It's All Politics

4 Things To Watch For In Louisiana

Originally published on Sat March 24, 2012 4:09 pm

Rick Santorum takes the phone to speak to a supporter's husband, who couldn't attend a Shreveport, La., rally, on Friday.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

Saturday should be another good day for Rick Santorum, as his strength has been in Southern states. Polls in Louisiana, which is holding its primary, also gave him a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney coming into the weekend.

The Sportsman's Paradise has 46 Republican delegates to send to the party's presidential-nominating convention. But the very helpful Frontloading HQ blog informs us that only 20 of 25 at-large delegates will be doled out based on Saturday's results.

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6:24pm

Fri March 23, 2012
It's All Politics

Santorum's 'Obamaville' Ad Warns Of 2nd-Term Horror

Santorum ad screen capture

Rick Santorum has a not so little problem standing between him and a general-election face-off with President Obama — Mitt Romney.

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4:08pm

Fri March 23, 2012
It's All Politics

Trayvon Martin Tragedy Edges Onto Presidential Campaign Trail

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

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

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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9:46am

Fri March 23, 2012
It's All Politics

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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3:34pm

Thu March 22, 2012
It's All Politics

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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12:59am

Wed March 21, 2012
It's All Politics

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

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

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

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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4:48pm

Tue March 20, 2012
It's All Politics

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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5:21pm

Mon March 19, 2012
It's All Politics

New Jersey As Good-Government Leader? Believe It

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

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

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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3:07pm

Mon March 19, 2012
It's All Politics

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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