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

It's All Politics
7:50 am
Fri October 5, 2012

For Obama, 7.8 Could Be Lucky Number

President Obama smiles during a rally Friday at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 5, 2012 8:09 am

To become president and to be re-elected president takes much luck (among other factors, like money and political skill.) And President Obama appears to be one of the most fortunate presidents in recent memory with the release of the latest employment report.

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It's All Politics
2:39 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Obama Aims Post-Debate Barbs At Romney As Many Ask: Why'd He Wait?

President Obama drew a crowd in Madison, Wis., the day after his widely panned first debate against GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

For President Obama, Thursday appeared to have its share of what the French call staircase wit.

We've all experienced it. Heading up the stairs to bed, you think of the perfect response to something someone else said earlier. Of course, it's too late.

The day after his widely panned presidential debate performance, Obama delivered the sort of retorts to his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, that were mainly absent the night before.

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It's All Politics
11:33 am
Tue October 2, 2012

A Poll's Query About Partisan Bias Of Pollsters Finds The Tilt Is With Voters

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 11:55 am

You can believe this latest poll result if you'd like. Or not.

A survey released Tuesday that was conducted by Public Policy Polling asked people if they thought pollsters were rigging their results to show President Obama leading Mitt Romney (h/t Josh Voorhees at The Slatest).

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It's All Politics
10:47 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Pelosi Rival's New Ad Features Two Sacrificial Lambs, Including Himself

Actors depict Rep. Nancy Pelosi and zombies in a campaign ad by her Republican challenger.
Screenshot of John Dennis For Congress Ad

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 12:31 pm

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It's All Politics
9:54 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Presidential Debates: The One Area Where Campaigns Pitch Their Weakness

Sen. John McCain and then-Sen. Barack Obama, at one of their 2008 presidential debates.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 10:19 am

An oddity of U.S. presidential politics is that candidates and their campaigns spend nearly all their time telling voters how superior they are to their rivals in virtually every area: the wisdom of their policy proposals; the soundness of their characters and judgments — everything, really.

Except for debating.

It's the old game of setting the bar high for your opponent and lower for your candidate, of course. That way, anything short of a disastrous debate performance can be claimed as a knockout victory.

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It's All Politics
8:53 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Romney's Nevada Problems Explained By A Political Scientist Who Voted For Him

Mitt Romney at a Las Vegas fundraiser last week.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 12:04 pm

Nevada, with its six electoral votes, is far from the biggest Election Day prize sought by President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

But in a race that could be so close that neither candidate can afford to concede a single electoral vote, Nevada is being courted by the candidates to a degree far greater than its size would suggest.

Also, while Obama carried the state by 12 percentages points in 2008, the Great Recession hit the state hard, with widespread foreclosures and high unemployment.

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It's All Politics
1:26 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Obama Talks Of Slavery, Romney Of Freedom At Clinton Global Initiative

President Obama talked of the world's need to crack down on human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York on Tuesday.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 1:35 pm

One presidential candidate talked about slavery, the other of freedom.

And the speeches President Obama and Mitt Romney gave at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Tuesday were as different as the men themselves.

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It's All Politics
2:00 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Romney Thwacks Obama For Calling Libya And Other Hot Spots 'Bumps'

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney shakes hands at an aircraft museum in Pueblo, Colo., Monday.
Bryan Oller AP

It's taken as a given that American voters in 2012 aren't as concerned about foreign policy as they are the domestic economy.

It's also accepted as true that on matters of foreign policy, President Obama has an advantage over his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who lacks significant firsthand foreign policy experience.

But Romney has made it a point lately to show that he's not ceding foreign policy and national security to Obama.

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It's All Politics
2:25 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Romney's 2011 Tax Return Gives More Fodder To Critics Who Already Had Surplus

Mitt Romney waves to supporters as he arrives at a rally Friday in Las Vegas.
Julie Jacobson AP

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 2:34 pm

Mitt Romney's Friday release of his 2011 tax return puts that issue back in the headlines just when it had slipped largely off many people's radar screens.

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It's All Politics
12:11 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Obama, Ryan AARP Appearances Show Politics' Third Rail Is Still Charged

President Obama spoke to AARP members via live video feed.
AARP livestream

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 12:59 pm

Separate appearances Friday by President Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan before an AARP meeting in New Orleans proved that the third rail of American politics, Medicare and Social Security collectively, is still very much electrified.

Speaking to a supremely friendly audience via live video feed from Virginia, where he was campaigning, Obama drew repeated applause and cheers with promises to defend Medicare and Social Security from Republican proposals that he said threaten the entitlement programs' ability to deliver the kind of benefits seniors have become accustomed to.

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It's All Politics
12:46 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Despite Obama's High Latino Support, Univision Puts Him On Hot Seat

President Obama got few if any softball questions when he had his turn at a Univision forum for the two major-party presidential candidates.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 1:46 pm

President Obama may have the overwhelming support of Latino voters in his race against Republican Mitt Romney, but that didn't get him a free pass during his appearance Thursday at Univision's presidential candidate forum.

Obama faced repeated tough questions from the hosts of the forum on the Spanish-language channel, and from some in the audience, for his failure to deliver on his promise as a candidate in 2008 to push comprehensive immigration reform during his first year in the White House.

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It's All Politics
8:00 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Tim Pawlenty Exits Romney Campaign To Lead Bank Lobbying Group

Tim Pawlenty at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 9:03 am

With less than seven weeks to go before the presidential election, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is leaving his job as co-chairman of the Mitt Romney campaign to take a top Washington lobbying job.

Pawlenty, 51, will become the next CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, whose 100 members include many of the nation's largest banks and insurance and securities companies.

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It's All Politics
9:39 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Welfare Wasn't Always A Dirty Word In The Romney Family

Mitt Romney reads on his campaign bus earlier this year. A 1960s campaign poster supporting his father, George, is behind him.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Fri September 21, 2012 7:24 am

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It's All Politics
2:40 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Romney Explains Comments Again As GOP Unearths Obama Video

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign fundraising event in Salt Lake City on Tuesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:39 pm

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took his effort to contain the damage from the video of his remarks about Americans who don't pay taxes to Fox News Channel Tuesday.

There, he acknowledged that some of those who don't pay federal income taxes are senior citizens and military service members.

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It's All Politics
6:48 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Comparing Romney's '47 Percent' Remark And Obama's 'Cling To Guns' Comments

Mitt Romney speaks about secretly taped video from one of his campaign fundraising events, Monday in Costa Mesa, Calif.,
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 8:16 am

The emergence of video secretly recorded in May, in which Mitt Romney speaks scornfully of President Obama's supporters, has sparked the inevitable comparisons to controversial comments President Obama made in 2008.

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It's All Politics
2:08 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

As Mitt Romney Woos Latinos, Obama's Team Derides A 'Makeover'

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made his pitch for Latino votes at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce convention in Los Angeles on Monday.
Charles Dharapak AP

Mitt Romney made yet another attempt Monday to narrow President Obama's substantial polling lead over him with Latino voters.

The Republican presidential nominee spoke at the Los Angeles convention of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce where he was respectfully received.

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It's All Politics
7:48 am
Wed September 12, 2012

U.S. Embassy Attacks In North Africa Reverberate On White House Campaign

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on as President Obama hugs a State Department employee Wednesday. Obama met with State Department workers after the killing of four Americans in Libya.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 4:45 pm

Updated and revised at 4:26 pm ET:

The death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans at the hands of extremists there became the latest fodder in the 2012 presidential race early Wednesday.

Republican Mitt Romney used the incident to continue his campaign's attacks on President Obama's approach to foreign policy.

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It's All Politics
11:59 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Chicago Teachers' Strike Forces Obama To Steer Carefully Between Two Allies

Striking Chicago public school teachers have a message for Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday.
Robert Ray AP

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 1:19 pm

Getting caught in a fight between two important allies is not where a president locked in a tight re-election race would willingly choose to be.

But that's where President Obama is today as he attempts for now to stay above the fray pitting the striking Chicago teachers against Mayor Rahm Emanuel who, in an earlier incarnation, was Obama's White House chief of staff.

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It's All Politics
1:30 am
Sat September 1, 2012

Republicans Gear Up To Thwart An Obama North Carolina Two-Peat

Romney-Ryan campaign volunteers Will Moore and Mindy Moorman in the Greensboro, N.C., office.
Frank James NPR

Blindsided is what North Carolina Republicans felt four years ago when President Obama won the state, though by the slightest of margins — a mere 14,177 votes out of 4.3 million cast.

Republicans admit they had taken as a given a 2008 North Carolina victory by Sen. John McCain. And who could blame them? No Democratic presidential candidate had won the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

But as McCain learned to his grief, history isn't always destiny. Obama's campaign had an effective strategy to win the state, and did.

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It's All Politics
1:07 am
Sat August 25, 2012

Veteran N.C. Political Strategists See Obama Path To Winning Tar Heel State

President Obama walks onto the stage before speaking at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill on April 24.
Gerry Broome AP

Originally published on Sat August 25, 2012 5:20 am

If you want to understand how the White House race will play out in North Carolina as we enter the convention phase, talking to Carter Wrenn, a Republican, and Gary Pearce, a Democrat, is a good start.

The two veteran political strategists have, over decades, been involved in many a Tar Heel campaign.

One of Wrenn's best known clients was Jesse Helms, the late North Carolina senator renowned for both his surliness and race baiting.

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It's All Politics
10:35 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Todd Akin Fallout Spreads From Missouri To White House Race

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., and his wife Lulli, talk with reporters last Thursday at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo. On Monday, Akin was resisting GOP calls to resign from his Senate race.
Orlin Wagner AP

Originally published on Mon August 20, 2012 4:28 pm

After Republican Rep. Todd Akin's inflammatory comments over the weekend in which he blithely minimized rape-induced pregnancies, there are at least two inescapable questions:

1) What impact will his remark have on his U.S. Senate race in Missouri against Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill?

2) And how much will the shockwaves buffet the presidential contest or other races elsewhere?

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It's All Politics
9:05 am
Fri August 17, 2012

Obama Camp's DOA Tax Offer To Romney Keeps Issue Alive

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 9:26 am

The Friday offer from President Obama's campaign to Mitt Romney — that if the GOP presidential candidate releases his tax returns for the past five years, it won't attack him for not releasing more — was immediately rejected by the Romney campaign.

But the give-and-take keeps Romney on the defensive, and promises to keep the issue of Romney's taxes going for weeks to come.

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It's All Politics
5:23 am
Tue August 14, 2012

N.J. Gov. Christie To Keynote Romney's Convention

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie greets Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Des Moines, Iowa, on Dec. 30, 2011.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 6:09 am

The man some Republicans once hoped would be their party's 2012 presidential nominee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will instead deliver the keynote speech at the national convention that will make Mitt Romney the GOP's official standard-bearer.

Christie has won plaudits from Republicans for an everyman style, for taking on the New Jersey teachers unions, and for generally not suffering lightly those he considers fools — whether they're voters, members of the media or even some members of his own party.

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It's All Politics
2:08 pm
Mon August 13, 2012

With Four Candidates Now Campaigning, 'Choice' Is The Theme

Rep. Paul Ryan at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Monday.
Conrad Schmidt AP

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 2:38 pm

With Rep. Paul Ryan officially in the mix as Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, the 2012 race for the White House was fully engaged Monday, as all four members of the two major-party presidential tickets campaigned in swing states.

Both President Obama and Ryan were in Iowa, while Romney, the all-but-official Republican nominee, campaigned in Florida. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden was in North Carolina, hitting a state the Republican ticket visited over the weekend.

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It's All Politics
9:23 am
Sat August 11, 2012

Historically Cautious Romney Takes 'Shot Down The Field' In Ryan

Mitt Romney introduces Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate Saturday in Norfolk, Va.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 11, 2012 10:03 am

Some of those who know Mitt Romney best or have studied his political and business careers say the Republican presidential candidate tends toward caution and deep analysis in making decisions.

That helps explain why his choice of Rep. Paul Ryan surprised more than a few: Among the candidates reportedly on Romney's short list, Ryan was widely perceived as one of the less-safe choices.

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It's All Politics
12:10 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

In New Ads Focused On Character, Obama And Romney Get Personal

Romney campaign ad

Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 1:24 pm

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It's All Politics
12:19 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Obama Targets Romney On Tax Credit For Wind Energy Producers

President Obama at a Newton, Iowa, wind-turbine blade maker in May.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 1:12 pm

How many votes can President Obama gain or Mitt Romney lose because of the Republican's opposition to renewing federal tax credits to wind energy producers? The answer, with apologies to Bob Dylan, is blowin' in the wind.

Obama hopes to influence the answer by relentlessly pounding the all-but-official Republican presidential nominee's opposition to the renewal.

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It's All Politics
12:40 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Poll Shows Voters Split On Presidential Candidates' Tax Returns

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 1:10 pm

About half of those surveyed in a new poll of voters in three swing states thought presidential candidates should release multiple years of their tax returns.

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It's All Politics
7:04 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Missouri's Claire McCaskill Gets Clarity On Her Opponent, If Not Her Future

The Missouri Republican primary win by Rep. Todd Akin gives Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Democrat, the choice she seemed to prefer.
Jeff Roberson AP

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 8:05 am

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It's All Politics
1:05 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Convention List Grows: Carter (By Video) At Democrats'; Santorum At GOP's

Former President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Center in Atlanta in February 2012.
John Bazemore AP

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 1:50 pm

Former President Jimmy Carter may be the epitome of failed presidents in the eyes of many Republicans.

But the Democrats announced Tuesday that the one-term president will have a prime-time speaking role at their national convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September. Carter won't be there live, however; he'll speak by video.

A news release from the Democratic National Convention Committee quoted the former president:

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