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
3:12 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

John McCain Tells Michele Bachmann To Lay Off Hillary Clinton Aide

Sen. John McCain defended Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, against accusations by several House GOP members that she has ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
C-SPAN screenshot

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 9:09 am

(Updated at 5:14 pm ET)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took to the Senate floor Wednesday in an apparent attempt to shame Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and other House GOP lawmakers who recently questioned whether a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a fifth columnist for the Muslim Brotherhood.

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It's All Politics
9:23 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Romney's 'Crony Capitalism' Charge May Ring True For Leaders Of Both Parties

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 12:25 pm

Crony capitalism is a term very much in vogue because of Mitt Romney's accusations that President Obama has engaged in the practice, allegedly rewarding the business interests of political supporters with federal taxpayer dollars.

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It's All Politics
3:29 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Harry Reid Worries About '17 Angry Old White Men' Buying The Nation

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, shown July 10 on Capitol Hill, adds another classic bon mot to his record with his worries about "17 angry old white men" buying the country.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 4:23 pm

Add another line to the list of memorable quotes from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

On Monday, the Nevada Democrat was on the Senate floor defending Democratic-backed campaign-finance legislation known as the DISCLOSE Act when he uttered the following thought (the relevant passage starts at the 8:00 mark in this C-SPAN video):

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It's All Politics
1:51 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Jobs Report And Politics: The Monthly Spin Cycle

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the monthly jobs report Friday in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 2:32 pm

Like any Oval Office incumbent seeking re-election, President Obama would prefer to have the economy exceeding expectations in terms of job creation at this point in the campaign.

But exactly four months from Election Day, the economy isn't cooperating. In fact, it's doing just the opposite, underperforming job-growth forecasts in recent months.

Given the trend, it seems unlikely the four monthly jobs reports to be issued between Friday and Election Day will change the pattern in which our politics now seem trapped:

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It's All Politics
5:00 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Michigan's GOP Governor Keeps To Middle Of The Road, Vetoes Voter ID Law

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed voter ID legislation on Tuesday.
John Flesher AP

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 5:15 pm

At first blush, it seems like a man-bites-dog story: a Republican governor vetoing voter ID legislation decried as voter suppression by Democratic critics of the bills.

But when you consider that the chief executive who wielded the veto pen Tuesday was Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, the news becomes somewhat less surprising.

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It's All Politics
1:35 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Romney Adviser Seems To Undercut GOP Health Care Tax Argument

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 9:35 am

There apparently isn't a unified Republican message on whether President Obama has introduced a big new tax through the Affordable Care Act.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a top aide to Mitt Romney, said Monday that the Republican presidential candidate's position is that the penalty under the new law — the one for people who can afford to buy health insurance, but don't — is not a tax.

The Supreme Court last week upheld the health care law's individual mandate on the grounds that it is a permissible tax, in a 5-4 opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts.

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It's All Politics
3:50 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Ironies Abound In New Romney Ad

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 9:57 am

In a new anti-Obama ad, Mitt Romney's campaign has struck a mother lode of delicious ironies.

The all-but-official presidential candidate's ad pushes back against the criticisms of his job-creation record as head of Bain Capital, the private equity firm.

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It's All Politics
10:18 am
Thu June 28, 2012

Obama's Supreme Court Health Care Victory Hard To Overstate

President Obama signs the health care bill into law at the White House on March 23, 2010.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 1:50 pm

Even in Washington, a city where hyperbole rules, it still seems difficult to overstate how big a win the Supreme Court's decision on President Obama's signature piece of domestic legislation is for the man in the Oval Office.

The Affordable Care Act is so identified with him, after all, that its opponents quickly dubbed it "Obamacare," a term supporters at first eschewed but later came to embrace.

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It's All Politics
5:02 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Romney Gets No Relief On Outsourcing Story

Mitt Romney appears with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (left) on Wednesday. Romney failed to convince Washington Post journalists they were wrong to link him to the outsourcing of U.S. jobs while he led Bain Capital.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 1:51 pm

Ever since the Washington Post published a widely read piece last week whose central premise was that when Mitt Romney ran Bain Capital the firm invested in companies that shipped U.S. jobs abroad, President Obama, Vice President Biden and other Democrats have repeatedly cited it.

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It's All Politics
2:24 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Romney Tries To Turn The Outsourcing Table On Obama

Mitt Romney greeted supporters in Salem, Va., Tuesday, as his campaign tried to frame President Obama as the real outsourcer of U.S. jobs.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 4:43 pm

Mitt Romney's campaign has an obvious challenge: how best to combat charges from the Obama campaign that when the all-but-official Republican nominee was in the private sector, he was heavily involved in offshoring the jobs of U.S. workers?

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It's All Politics
2:26 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Supreme Court's Arizona Ruling Could Aid Obama While Vexing Romney

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 6:47 am

The political impact of Monday's Supreme Court ruling that three of four provisions of Arizona's immigration enforcement law are unconstitutional — and that a fourth could eventually be found to be — certainly appeared, at first blush, to be a significant political win for President Obama.

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It's All Politics
3:12 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Obama Basks In Latino Politicians' Love After His DREAM Moves

President Obama returned a young fan's salute at the conference of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Orlando, Fla.
Brendan Smialowski AFP

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 1:55 pm

Coming a week after President Obama announced that he would defer deportation proceedings for many young illegal immigrants, it was safe to predict that he'd get an appreciative response from an audience of Latino leaders. They didn't disappoint.

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It's All Politics
2:02 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Rubio On Compromise, Immigration And His 'Union Activist' Past

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., delivers a speech during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in February in Washington.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 3:19 pm

To hear Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tell it, it's happenstance that his newly published memoir, An American Son, became available just as the speculation about Republican vice presidential possibilities is heating up.

Rubio, a rising Cuban-American star in his party, told NPR's Robert Siegel, co-host of All Things Considered, in a Thursday interview:

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It's All Politics
5:27 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Senate's Top Republican Seeks A Cue From Romney On Immigration

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to the media on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 5:42 am

President Obama has certainly put Republicans in a tricky spot with his action to essentially activate parts of the DREAM Act that would defer deportations for certain young illegal immigrants.

Come out against the president's stance, popular with many Latino voters but not exclusively so, and Republicans run the risk of further alienating many of those voters.

But come out in support of the president's act, and many conservatives in the Republican base could get angry.

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It's All Politics
2:11 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

With DREAM Order, Obama Did What Presidents Do: Act Without Congress

President Obama on Friday announced he was using his executive power to give some young illegal immigrants the right to stay longer in the United States.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 11:12 am

President Obama's announcement Friday that he is using his executive authority to defer deportation proceedings for young immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally but meet certain requirements was just the latest example of the president's use of his power to act without Congress on policy issues.

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It's All Politics
4:14 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Obama, Romney Duel On Economy In Ohio Where It Could All Be Decided

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 5:21 pm

Ohio could very well be the state where what's expected to be a very close presidential race gets decided.

And every indication is that the economy will be the issue that drives the majority of voters to either President Obama or Mitt Romney.

Which explains why on Thursday both the Democratic president and the all-but-official Republican nominee were, again, in Ohio to argue why he and not his opponent should be president starting January 20, 2013.

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It's All Politics
12:37 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Scholars Ding News Media For Uncritically Repeating 'Job Killer' Charge

Speaker John Boehner and other House Republican leaders at a May 31, 2012 news conference at which they described a proposal by Rep. Nancy Pelosi to raise taxes as a "job killer."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 1:11 pm

"Job killer."

You don't have to listen very long to what passes in American politics for debate about the economy before you hear that phrase. Usually it's wielded by Republicans against their Democratic opponents although Democrats occasionally resort to it, too.

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It's All Politics
12:09 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Obama Team: Household Net Actually Rose, Not Fell, During His Presidency

Obama administration officials pointed to the 56 percent rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since January 2009, and rising 401(k) values as evidence that the personal balance sheets of many Americans have improved during his presidency.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 1:12 pm

The nearly 40 percent drop in median household net worth between 2007 and 2010 the Federal Reserve reported earlier this week was unarguably an arresting statistic. It confirmed for millions what they already knew, that the Great Recession and its aftermath have been a financial setback with few parallels.

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It's All Politics
1:33 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

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

Fox News screen grab

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 4:22 pm

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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It's All Politics
11:08 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Liberal Group Excitedly Eyes Millions Of Potential Latino Voters

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 11:40 am

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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It's All Politics
11:19 am
Fri June 8, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 2:39 pm

-- 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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It's All Politics
11:35 am
Thu June 7, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Thu June 7, 2012 2:38 pm

-- 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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It's All Politics
9:55 am
Thu June 7, 2012

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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It's All Politics
2:14 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Wed June 6, 2012 3:02 pm

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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It's All Politics
3:42 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

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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It's All Politics
11:30 am
Fri June 1, 2012

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

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

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

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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It's All Politics
4:55 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 4:48 pm

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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It's All Politics
1:50 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 2:29 pm

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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It's All Politics
4:32 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

South Dakotan Hopes Video Stroll Ends In Congress

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 4:37 pm

Some of us missed the Jeff Barth video when it first hit the Internet last week, which is like a year ago in web time.

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It's All Politics
2:18 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 2:58 pm

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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