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
12:29 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Poll: Jobs Should Be Next President's Priority; Tax Fairness? Not So Much

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 4:31 pm

Nearly every major poll indicates that the top issues for voters are jobs and the economy. Making the wealthy pay more in income taxes? Not so much, at least according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll.

An excerpt from Gallup:

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It's All Politics
3:12 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Obama Pre-Empts Romney's Israel Visit With Security Aid Bill Signing

President Obama is flanked Friday by congressional sponsors and officials with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., for legislation increasing U.S. security aid to Israel.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 8:47 am

It may have just been a coincidence that on the eve of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's visit to Israel, President Obama signed legislation that increases U.S. military and security aid to the Jewish state.

But the timing was nonetheless fortuitous for the president, and showed once again the benefits of incumbency in an election year.

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It's All Politics
4:38 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Romney In London: Not A Smashing Success So Far

Mitt Romney leaves London's 10 Downing Street after meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 5:27 pm

The first stop — Britain — in Mitt Romney's foreign tour certainly is starting out rockier than nearly anyone expected.

First there was the kerfuffle over remarks, attributed by a British newspaper to an anonymous campaign adviser, that Romney understood the shared "Anglo-Saxon heritage" between the U.S. and Britain in a way President Obama didn't. Those comments were viewed as racist by some and were disowned by the Romney campaign.

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It's All Politics
12:53 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Romney Backer Explains Why Obama's Wrong, Despite Her Firm's Gov't Contracts

Rebecca Smith, owner of A.D. Morgan, speaks Thursday at a Tampa, Fla., event to denounce President Obama's statements about small businesses. The event was organized by the Romney campaign. At left is Lou Ramos of Value Enterprise Solutions.
Daniel Wallace Tampa Bay Times/ZUMAPRESS.com

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 2:48 pm

Rebecca Smith owns a Tampa, Fla., construction-management firm that does a lot of work overseeing the building of schools and jails, and other projects for state and local governments.

But even though much of her firm's $80 million in annual revenue comes from contracts with government agencies, she says she was "disgusted" by President Obama's thesis that government had a significant role in her business achievements.

Obama's actual words, from a July 13 speech in Virginia, were:

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It's All Politics
5:47 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Obama Ad Accuses Romney Of Twisting 'You Didn't Build That' Line

Mitt Romney and other Republicans have pounded President Obama for weeks for an awkwardly phrased remark that, taken out of context, made it sound as though the president believed the federal government should get all the credit for every business ever created.

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It's All Politics
5:01 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Sen. Feinstein Backtracks On White House National Security Leaks

Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 5:32 pm

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared to have second thoughts Tuesday about joining the chorus of Republicans accusing the Obama White House of leaking classified national security information.

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It's All Politics
11:25 am
Tue July 24, 2012

At VFW, Romney Seeks To Dull Obama's National Security Sheen

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars look on Monday as President Obama speaks during the group's national convention in Reno, Nev. Republican Mitt Romney was scheduled to speak to the group on Tuesday.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 2:23 pm

(Revised @ 3:19 pm ET)

In a result few predicted before he became commander in chief, President Obama exhibits surprising strength with voters on national security issues.

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It's All Politics
4:42 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

Little Election-Year Incentive For Obama Or Romney To Join Gun Debate

President Obama at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colo., on Sunday, when he met with victims and family members of last week's shooting.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 6:33 am

As occurs after seemingly every mass killing that involves firearms, the shootings in a suburban Denver movie theater last week have renewed calls for tougher gun control laws.

Just as predictably, those calls have led to pushback by gun-rights advocates who accuse those calling for stricter legislation of trying to exploit the tragedy to restrict Americans' Second Amendment rights.

Worth noting is that neither of the two major-party candidates running for the White House has engaged in any current gun control debate.

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It's All Politics
11:30 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Movie-Theater Shootings Put Presidential Politics On Hold

President Obama turned a planned campaign speech in Fort Myers, Fla., into a brief statement about the shooting rampage. He asked the audience to join him in a moment of silence for the victims.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 5:56 pm

(Updated @ 1:11 pm ET)

As deeply as the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., shocked the national conscience, they also quickly affected the U.S. political scene, with both major party presidential campaigns ripping up their scripts for Friday, and the mayor of the nation's largest city using the issue to put the candidates on the spot on gun control.

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It's All Politics
5:39 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Web Quiz Tells You Which Presidential Candidate Best Fits Your Worldview

ISideWith.com screenshot

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 6:28 pm

Take one guy with an abiding interest in politics, another guy with website-building skills and throw in the shared desire to get people more engaged in the political process, and you have the ingredients for an interactive site called ISideWith.com.

The site's purpose is to show you which presidential candidate's views most align with yours by running you through a short quiz that asks your stance on various policy issues, then determines which candidate most agrees with you.

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It's All Politics
3:48 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 10:09 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
10:23 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 1:25 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
4:29 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 5:23 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
3:04 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 3:32 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
5:48 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 6:15 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
2:35 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Romney Adviser Seems To Undercut GOP Health Care Tax Argument

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 10:35 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
4:50 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Ironies Abound In New Romney Ad

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 10:57 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
11:41 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 2:50 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
6:23 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 2:51 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
3:24 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 5:43 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
3:26 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

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

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 7:47 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
4:12 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 2:55 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
3:02 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 4:19 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
6:35 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 6:42 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
2:54 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 12:12 pm

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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