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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6:09pm

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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9:25am

Mon March 19, 2012
It's All Politics

Monday Political Grab Bag: Romney Wins In PR; Race Heads To Illinois

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 12:45 pm

Mitt Romney at Charlie Parker's Diner in Springfield, IL, March 19, 2012.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Mitt Romney won Puerto Rico's Republican presidential primary Sunday, adding the commonwealth's 20 delegates to his commanding lead over the other candidates as they compete to reach the 1,144 needed for the nomination. Rick Santorum hurt himself with the island's voters by saying English had to become its official language before it could achieve statehood.

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3:55pm

Fri March 16, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Spreads (Tele)Phony Story About Long-Dead President

President Rutherford B. Hayes actually was a big fan of the telephone, despite President Obama's assertion otherwise.
AP

Poor Rutherford B. Hayes. It wasn't bad enough that the 19th president, a Republican, was called "His Fraudulency" by Democrats during his one term in office (1877-1881) because of the unusual circumstances of how he "won."

Now, the current occupant of the White House, President Obama, was spreading a most assuredly inaccurate story, according to experts, about Hayes' reaction to an early telephone.

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1:30pm

Fri March 16, 2012
It's All Politics

Wisconsin Target Of Recall Decides To Quit Instead

A Wisconsin GOP lawmaker facing a recall election called it quits Friday and said she hopes the state can get past scenes like this gathering of protesters in Madison on March 10, 2012.
Barbara Rodriguez AP

What happens if the target of a recall election decides to call it quits before the actual election?

If it's Wisconsin, the recall election apparently happens anyway.

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7:02pm

Thu March 15, 2012
It's All Politics

Biden Calls Out Romney, Gingrich By Name For Opposing Auto Bailout

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 12:52 pm

Vice President Biden took on the traditional role that has been reserved to those who have previously served in his position as the political wing man for a president seeking re-election: he went on the attack.

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2:50pm

Thu March 15, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney's Wins In Obama Country May Not Mean Much

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 6:20 pm

Mitt Romney shakes hands with hotel staffers in the Cleveland suburbs in February.
Gerald Herbert AP

What does it mean that in 2012 Mitt Romney has, during the Republican presidential primaries, done well in some of the same Ohio and Michigan urban-suburban counties that President Obama won in 2008 — a pattern likely to be repeated in some upcoming primaries?

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9:31am

Thu March 15, 2012
It's All Politics

Thursday Political Grab Bag: Obama And UK's Cameron Showcase Unity

The Obamas and Camerons at the White House before a state dinner for the British prime minister.
Susan Walsh AP

In the wake of the alleged killing of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he wants all NATO troops moved onto existing large bases and a faster handover of security responsibilities to his nation's forces. This dovetails with growing opinion in the U.S. that the withdrawal of American troops happen sooner than scheduled.

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4:28pm

Wed March 14, 2012
It's All Politics

Gingrich's SuperPAC Ally Tells How His Candidate Can Still Be Nominee

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 6:02 pm

Newt Gingrich could still be his party's salvation, according to a former aide who advises a pro-Gingrich superPAC.
David Goldman AP

Time for a few unconventional thoughts:

  • Newt Gingrich is still in good enough shape to win the Republican presidential nomination at a brokered convention in Tampa.
  • By staying in the race, Gingrich actually helps, not hurts, his rival Rick Santorum.
  • Gingrich's situation resembles Abraham Lincoln's in 1860.
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1:49pm

Wed March 14, 2012
It's All Politics

Pew Poll: Good News, Bad News For Romney

The cacophony of hoots being directed at Mitt Romney Wednesday for his poor performances in Alabama and Mississippi primaries is somewhat curious, especially since it was the conventional wisdom as recently as last week that the Deep South was likely to be very tough going for him.

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6:00am

Tue March 13, 2012
It's All Politics

Five Things To Watch For In Tuesday's Alabama, Mississippi GOP Primaries

Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 9:56 am

Can Mitt Romney finally win a Southern state Tuesday? Here, Romney greets Alabamans at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mobile on Monday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Alabama and Mississippi will play unaccustomed high-profile roles Tuesday as each candidate for the Republican presidential nomination looks to voters in those states to give his candidacy a boost — toward inevitability, if you're Mitt Romney, or just one more week if you're Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich.

So voters and analysts alike will be watching the two states closely Tuesday to see whether Republicans there chose to go with the most electable candidate, who many say is Romney, or the most conservative, a label Santorum and Gingrich say fits them.

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2:43pm

Mon March 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Presidential Speeches: Sound And (Partisan) Fury, Signifying Not Much

When presidents give major set-piece speeches, they're mainly engaged in exercises in futility since a commander-in-chief's high-flown rhetoric rarely shifts voter attitudes for long.

Indeed, the exercise could even be more negative than neutral since speeches by presidents advocating specific policy not only leave citizen unswayed but can fire up political opponents in the other party, according to Ezra Klein in an essay in the New Yorker.

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9:27am

Mon March 12, 2012
It's All Politics

Monday Political Grab Bag: Rising Gas Prices Hurt Obama's Ratings Etc

Some voters believe President Obama has the power to lower gas prices and are blaming him for higher costs.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Rising gas prices have many voters looking for someone to blame and President Obama appears to be as good a target as anyone, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll suggests, with the president's approval rating falling from 50 percent last month to 46 percent recently.

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