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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3:28pm

Sun January 22, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney, Gingrich Appeals To GOP Right Raises General Election Hurdles

With Newt Gingrich beating Mitt Romney in South Carolina as soundly as the Johnny Rebels in 1861 thrashed the Billy Yanks at Bull Run (or the First Battle of Manassas, depending on your view), the Republican presidential nomination contest marches southward to Florida.

There in the Sunshine State, the campaign promises to be an even more hard- fought affair than in South Carolina, with both candidates battling for their party's conservative soul by out-righting each other.

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9:32am

Sat January 21, 2012
It's All Politics

South Carolina: Another Unpredictable Point In Campaign Full Of Them

The race for the 2012 Republican presidential campaign has been anything but predictable.

It's been the first contest in memory, for instance, with a candidate, Mitt Romney, who was reputedly the inevitable nominee but so suspect in many Republicans' eyes that they kept searching for an alternative. That has led to nearly every candidate in the crowded field, at one time or another, challenging for frontrunner status.

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12:40am

Fri January 20, 2012
It's All Politics

Gingrich, Santorum Shine, Romney Doesn't At Last Debate Before S.C. Primary

Republican presidential candidates (from left) Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul participate in the GOP presidential candidate debate at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, S.C., on Thursday.
David Goldman AP

The last Republican presidential debate before Saturday's South Carolina primary was expected to be lively. It didn't disappoint.

It was clear, even before the four remaining candidates met on the stage in Charleston, SC, that at least three of them would face some fairly high-stakes moments that could change the course of the contest. The question going into the debate was would they be able to master those moments?

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4:22pm

Thu January 19, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama's First 2012 TV Ad Defends Energy Record, Dings Koch Bros

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 5:00 pm

President Obama's campaign on Thursday released its first TV ad of the 2012 election cycle, and it's a defense of his record on energy.

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3:32pm

Thu January 19, 2012
It's All Politics

Last GOP Debate Before S.C. Primary Could Produce Political Fireworks

If there's ever been a presidential debate with as much news happening in the hours leading up to the event, it's hard to remember when.

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5:28pm

Wed January 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Keystone: Dead Pipeline Lives On As Election-Year Issue

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 5:47 pm

Now that President Obama has made his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, an obvious question is what will it mean for the 2012 presidential election?

Obviously, no one really knows the answer to that though that won't stop weeks if not months of speculation.

The key to Keystone is, which side will have the most success in framing its case to enough voters for it to make a difference?

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12:29pm

Wed January 18, 2012
It's All Politics

McCain's 2008 Anti-Mitt Romney Oppo Research Raised 2012 Themes

A document that purportedly represents opposition research targeting Mitt Romney from Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign was posted online by Buzzfeed reporter Andy Kaczynski.

Immediately noticeable is how many of criticisms of Romney by his rivals during the current race for the Republican presidential nomination could just have easily come from McCain's opposition research of four years ago.

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9:33am

Wed January 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Internet Blackout Puts Washington Online Piracy In Limelight

Originally published on Wed January 18, 2012 11:06 am

Screenshot of Wikipedia landing page.
Wikipedia screenshot

SOPA and PIPA (no, they're not the Duchess of Cambridge's sisters) will be on the minds of a lot more people Wednesday because of the online protests by Wikipedia, Google and other popular websites over the anti-piracy legislation with the catchy acronyms currently under consideration in Congress.

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4:52pm

Tue January 17, 2012
It's All Politics

Wisconsin Democrats Exceed Million-Signature Mark For Walker Recall

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 5:48 pm

Jeremy Levinson, (l) a lawyer to the recall committees, talks about the petitions as Mike Tate (c) Wisconsin Democratic Party chair listens, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.
Andy Manis AP

How badly do Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's opponents want him out of office? So badly they collected significantly more signatures than they needed to ensure a recall election for the governor. A lot more.

We're talking more than a million signatures, according to Wisconsin Democrats who, in order to meet the Tuesday deadline, were hauling boxes of documents to the state office responsible for reviewing them.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

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3:00pm

Fri January 13, 2012
It's All Politics

Gingrich Asks SuperPAC To Correct Or Pull 'King Of Bain' Romney Movie, Ads

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 3:35 pm

Newt Gingrich at the opening of his Florida campaign headquarters in Orlando, Friday, Jan. 13, 2012.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Barely a day has gone by without Newt Gingrich complaining about the inaccuracy of ads run against him by a superPAC supporting Mitt Romney.

So now that an anti-Mitt Romney film purchased by a superPAC supporting Gingrich has been criticized for numerous inaccuracies, Gingrich has asked that the film's creators and the funders paying for ads using film snippets edit out the falsehoods or take the ads and film down entirely.

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10:40am

Fri January 13, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Government-Streamlining Offer Creates GOP Dilemma

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 12:54 pm

President Obama proposal to streamline government will be challenging for the GOP to counter.
Ann Heisenfelt AP

Maybe even if it weren't a general-election year, President Obama would still be proposing that Congress give him the power to merge federal agencies to make the government smaller and more efficient.

But the fact is it is the year in which the president is seeking re-election, a year in which both the eventual Republican presidential nominee and Obama's GOP opponents in Congress will assert hundreds of times before it's over that he is a big-government Democrat.

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8:09am

Fri January 13, 2012
It's All Politics

New Mitt Romney Ad Defends His Bain Capital Career

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 11:57 am

Mitt Romney's campaign has a new TV ad meant to counter attacks on his career at private-equity firm Bain Capital, using the same defense it has ever since his rivals for the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination started taking populist jabs at him.

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3:31pm

Thu January 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Bill Janklow's Death Gives South Dakota Tribal Leader Chance To Vent

When someone dies, the eulogies roll in, the higher the stature of the departed, the more stately the praise.

And that's certainly somewhat true for Bill Janklow, South Dakota's former congressman and governor who died Thursday from his brain cancer.

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11:55am

Thu January 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama's Ex-Car Czar Defends Romney, Bain From GOP Attacks

Originally published on Thu January 12, 2012 12:13 pm

Steven Rattner.
Carlos Osorio AP

Steven Rattner, the Wall Street financier who oversaw the Obama Administration's successful rescues of General Motors and Chrysler, now comes to the aid of some other beleaguered members of corporate America — Mitt Romney in his former role as a private-equity CEO, and Bain Capital, the company the Republican presidential candidate once ran.

In a Politico opinion piece, former "car czar" Rattner defends Romney and Bain which he says was among the better angels in the world of private-equity firms.

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3:22pm

Wed January 11, 2012
It's All Politics

Expert: Pollsters Undersampled Paul's Young, Indie New Hampshire Voters

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 6:38 pm

Young voters at the University of New Hampshire listen to Rep. Ron Paul on Friday, Jan. 6, 2012.
Evan Vucci AP

Did pollsters underestimate the strength of Rep. Ron Paul's New Hampshire support because they didn't include enough younger voters or independents in their samples?

Yes, argues Stefan Hankin, a Washington, D.C. based pollster in a piece on the Campaign and Elections website.

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7:34am

Wed January 11, 2012
It's All Politics

'Down And Dirty,' South Carolina Has History Of Quashing Challengers

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 5:23 pm

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney laugh during a campaign event on Jan. 5 in Charleston, S.C.
Richard Ellis Getty Images

Now it's South Carolina's turn.

If the Palmetto State, the "First in the South" primary, plays its traditional role in the Republican presidential nomination process, it will be where the White House hopes of virtually every candidate except the eventual nominee will go to die in about 10 days.

It's not for nothing that it's called the "South Carolina Firewall." And at this moment, it's looking like it's Romney's firewall.

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8:01am

Tue January 10, 2012
It's All Politics

What GOP Candidates Need From New Hampshire

If the New Hampshire primary goes as widely expected, Mitt Romney should emerge the winner among the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. For weeks, polls in the state have shown him with a commanding lead.

But the 2012 campaign season has already delivered some surprises. Maybe New Hampshire will provide the latest in the series of unexpected twists?

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12:29am

Sun January 8, 2012
It's All Politics

New Hampshire Debate Left Us Really Ready For Some Football

Originally published on Sun January 8, 2012 11:25 pm

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (left to right) take their positions after a break in a debate in Manchester, N.H., Saturday.
Elise Amendola AP

Many of the journalists and professional political types who dutifully watched Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire probably had the same thought occur to them at several points: "For this we missed most of the NFL wildcard game between the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions?"

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4:17pm

Sat December 31, 2011
It's All Politics

What Does Santorum's Iowa Rise Mean? Likely Not Much

Originally published on Sat December 31, 2011 9:04 pm

Rick Santorum with news media after a campaign stop in Indianola, Iowa.
Chris Carlson AP

Because the news media abhor the absence of drama as much as nature supposedly detests vacuums, Rick Santorum's rise in recent polls of likely Iowa Republican presidential primary caucus voters definitely scratches a journalistic itch.

Santorum's ascent to the top three in Iowa polls, along with Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has spiced up the race, especially after the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania spent so many months stuck in the caboose of GOP candidates.

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11:23am

Fri December 23, 2011
It's All Politics

Boehner's 2012 Challenges Highlighted By Payroll Tax Misstep

Originally published on Mon December 26, 2011 12:09 pm

House Speaker John Boehner announces a payroll tax cut extension agreement, December 22, 2011.
Evan Vucci AP

When the histories of the current 112th Congress are finally written, maybe it all will become clear.

But for right now, there seem to be many more questions than answers.

For instance, why did House Republicans ever think it was a good idea to stake out a position on the payroll-tax issue that would leave them holding the bag for a new year's tax increase for 160 million workers? That has now been averted with Congress' passage Friday morning of a two-month extension of the current payroll-tax holiday.

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12:27am

Fri December 16, 2011
It's All Politics

Romney Regains Stride; Gingrich Shows Old Newt At Sioux City Debate

Mitt Romney returned to form in the final Republican presidential debate before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.

Romney, who had perhaps his shakiest debate performance in Des Moines over the weekend, appeared to regain his composure in Thursday night's debate in Sioux City, Iowa.

He managed to once again convey the sense that he was the one GOP candidate of the seven remaining who could credibly stand on the same stage with President Obama next fall, the most electable of the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination.

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5:59pm

Thu December 15, 2011
It's All Politics

Iowa Gov. Branstad On GOP White House Contest: 'It's A Wide Open Race'

Originally published on Fri December 16, 2011 9:14 am

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Iowa's popular Gov. Terry Branstad hasn't endorsed any of the Republican presidential candidates crisscrossing his state yet.

Which means he can at least claim to be above the intramural GOP fray scheduled to end in a few weeks when his state's Republican voters attend caucuses to choose their preference for their party's White House nominee.

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12:10pm

Thu December 15, 2011
It's All Politics

Sioux City Debate: GOP Candidates' Last Joint Meeting Before Voting Starts

The Republican presidential debates have mattered more this year than anything else in determining which candidate had the momentum and the lead in the race for the White House nomination.

Thus, Thursday evening's Sioux City, Iowa debate (Fox News, 9 pm ET) could be decisive in narrowing the gap between Newt Gingrich and the rest of the field or cementing his frontrunner status.

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12:38am

Sun December 11, 2011
It's All Politics

Gingrich Gets Through Debate Unscathed While Romney Doesn't

Originally published on Tue December 13, 2011 10:43 am

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in a debate give and take, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall AP

The $10,000 bet offer.

If Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, is remembered for anything, it may be for that moment where Mitt Romney made what seemed to many a substantial blunder by offering to wager Texas Gov. Rick Perry $10,000 on whether the governor had his facts right about Romney's record.

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4:56pm

Thu December 8, 2011
It's All Politics

Obama In No Appeasing Mood As He Goes After Republicans

It has been President Obama's misfortune to be accused of appeasement by both his political supporters and foes.

For much of his presidency, liberals have accused the president of being too willing to compromise away their priorities in his negotiations with Republicans.

Meanwhile, Republicans have called Obama an appeaser for not doing more to constrain U.S. enemies in the Middle East, specifically Iran.

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2:57pm

Wed December 7, 2011
It's All Politics

New Mitt Romney Iowa Ad Makes Claim Newt Gingrich Can't: One Marriage

Mitt Romney had a handy counterargument for all those who have called him a political flip flopper: his apparent steadfastness in all his personal commitments, like his 42-year marriage to his wife Anne.

Turns out, that argument can do double duty since it helps Romney draw a contrast with Newt Gingrich who is on his third marriage.

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2:01pm

Wed December 7, 2011
It's All Politics

Rick Perry Wears Faith On (Barn Coat) Sleeve In New Iowa Ad

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 2:48 pm

In the latest reminder that he's still in the race (if apparently not in the hunt) for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a new TV ad in Iowa in which he makes a naked appeal to the state's religious conservatives who are expected to play an important role in the upcoming caucuses.

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5:24pm

Tue December 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Mitt Romney Declines Donald Trump's Debate Invite

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 6:35 pm

Mitt Romney entertains a toddler in Paradise Valley, AZ, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Donald Trump's planned Republican presidential debate lost a major reason for tuning in: watching Mitt Romney contend with Newt Gingrich, the latest rival to claim frontrunner status.

Romney said Tuesday he planned to skip the debate to be moderated by Trump, the TV reality show star and real-estate developer.

The former Massachusetts governor told Fox News' Neil Cavuto of his decision to decline the invitation to the Trump debate being sponsored by NewsMax and ION TV.

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3:07pm

Tue December 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Maryland Robocall Conviction Puts Political Dirty Tricksters On Notice

Election-day dirty tricksters be forewarned: getting caught trying in a voter-suppression scheme can draw you a prison term, at least in Maryland.

That's one take away message from Tuesday's conviction of the man who served as campaign manager for the effort of Maryland's former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr.'s to regain the governorship.

A Baltimore jury found Paul Schurick guilty of election fraud on state charges related to 2010 voter-suppression robocalls meant to keep some African American voters, predominantly Democrats, away from the polls on election day.

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10:07am

Tue December 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Newt Gingrich, GOP Frontrunner, Plays Campaign Cash Catch Up

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 11:54 am

Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks with a supporter in New York City, Monday, Dec. 5, 2011.
Seth Wenig AP

When it comes to polls, Newt Gingrich is a strong frontrunner. New surveys in Iowa and South Carolina show him lapping the rest of the Republican presidential field and holding strong double digit leads.

But when it comes to money, the essential for running an effective modern campaign, Gingrich is still not a top-tier candidate.

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