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
5:19 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Former Romney Adviser: Veep Hunt Could Lead To Portman

Republican strategist Mike Murphy, November 2007.
Alex Wong AP

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 5:34 pm

Mike Murphy, the very quotable Republican political consultant who has listed some of his party's biggest names as clients, including John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, has some advice on picking a vice presidential running mate.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:35 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Michelle Obama: 'I Don't Have Stressful Job. He Does'

First lady Michelle Obama at a "Joining Forces" event at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Alex Brandon AP

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 2:00 pm

To White House outsiders and maybe even more than a few insiders, the life of a first lady would seem to be a fairly anxiety-inducing one. After all, there is no greater fish bowl than 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So NPR's Michel Martin, host of Tell Me More, asked First Lady Michelle Obama during an interview scheduled to air Tuesday how she deals with the pressures of being both the president's wife and the mother of school-age children.

Read more
It's All Politics
2:24 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Polarization, GOP's Rightward Shift, Fills Political Scientist With Dread

This graph shows the ideological movement for both parties in the House. Note the steady shift towards conservatism among Republicans.
voteview.com

When President Obama recently complained to news media executives about their ostensibly even-handed "pox on both of your houses" coverage of the partisan battles in Washington, it might have seemed like, well, a partisan shot from a Democratic president.

Read more
It's All Politics
2:14 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Obama Camp Doesn't Want General-Election Voters To Forget Primary Romney

When Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom indicated with his famous (or infamous) Etch-A-Sketch simile that the former Massachusetts governor would reset his campaign strategy and message after the Republican primaries in order to appeal to general-election voters, Democrats said they planned to make that shift difficult if not impossible for the presumptive GOP nominee.

Read more
It's All Politics
11:41 am
Wed April 11, 2012

4 Reasons Obama Keeps Pushing Buffet Rule

President Obama, with millionaires and their assistants, makes a point on the "Buffett Rule" in Washington, DC, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

For President Obama, the Buffett Rule is the political equivalent of a Swiss army knife, a tool he clearly intends to use any number of ways as he fights to be re-elected and deny the White House to Republican Mitt Romney.

From the Democrats' perspective, the proposed rule, which would require that superwealthy taxpayers with at least $1 million in taxable income after deductions, pay taxes at a minimum 30 percent rate, has so much going for it, they can hardly stop talking about it.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:55 pm
Tue April 10, 2012

What Santorum's Exit Means For Romney

Mitt Romney now can work on getting the entire Republican Party behind him and focus singly on attacking President Obama's record.
Steven Senne AP

That sigh of relief you heard coming from the direction of Boston was Mitt Romney's campaign operation, now that it no longer needs to expend any more resources trying to drive Rick Santorum from the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.

Aside from the money and brainpower that the Romney campaign can now target at President Obama as it rotates fully to general-election-campaign mode, the GOP front-runner has, even more important, finally freed himself from his last significant anyone-but-Romney challenger.

Read more
It's All Politics
11:51 am
Mon April 9, 2012

Romney Calls Negative Ad Ceasefire As Santorum Tends To Sick Daughter

Mitt Romney's suspension of negative ads against Rick Santorum shouldn't hurt and could help the former Massachusett governor's likeability ratings.
Steven Senne AP

Updated at 2:23 pm: Rick Santorum's daughter, Bella, is expected to be released from the hospital by Monday evening given the improvement in her condition, said Alice Stewart, spokeswoman for the former senator's campaign.

Assuming her release goes as planned and Santorum, who took a break from his campaign to tend to his daughter and for the Easter holiday, returns to the trail, that would clear the way for the Romney campaign to resume its negative advertising against Santorum.

---

Read more
It's All Politics
6:35 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Partisan Fight For Female Vote Uses Monthly Jobs Report As Weapon

Job seekers in Boston in February, 2012.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 7:18 pm

With the possibility that women voters might prove decisive in November's presidential election, each major party is obviously looking for opportunities to argue why its policies are better for women and the opposition's worse. The latest came Friday with the release of the March jobless figures.

The report was a surprise on the downside because the economy added far fewer jobs for the month — 121,000 — than economists had forecast even as the jobless rate declined a tenth of a percentage point to 8.2 percent.

Read more
It's All Politics
6:37 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Obama's Signing Of JOBS Act Likely Won't Dim GOP Charge He's Anti-Jobs

By signing the JOBS Act, President Obama likely didn't buy himself much relief from GOP charges he's hurt job creation.
Carolyn Kaster AP

President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (or JOBS) Act into law Thursday, legislation meant to make it easier for entrepreneurs to get investor financing that helps them add workers. Does that mean it will be harder for Republicans to frame Obama as anti-jobs?

"Well, if it works, it will make it harder," said Craig Shirley, a longtime conservative political strategist and writer who runs a Washington, D.C.-area public-affairs firm.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:16 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Craigslist Founder Takes On Voter ID Laws By Infographic

Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 3:19 pm

It's about a week after it became available on the Internet but no less interesting now than it was then is the infographic by Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, which skewers voter ID laws cropping up in various states. One of his points — the cure is far worse than the disease.

Read more
It's All Politics
9:32 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Thursday Political Grab Bag: Poll Shows Romney Surge In PA

Mitt Romney has taken the lead in voter support in Pennsylvania, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling which shows the Republican frontrunner ahead of Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from the Keystone State, 42 percent to 37 percent. That lead was just on the 4.9 point margin of error, suggesting a tie. That's bad news for Santorum, however, as he dropped six percentage points while Romney gained 17 percent from a month ago.

Read more
It's All Politics
6:08 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Santorum Adviser Says Calls To Exit GOP Race Are Premature

Rick Santorum at Bob's Diner in Carnegie, Pa., Wednesday.
Jae C. Hong AP

Much of the Republican political establishment, many GOP voters and political analysts were telling Rick Santorum that the time had come for him to end his quest for his party's presidential nomination even before Tuesday when he failed to win any of three primaries.

Those calls had only increased by Wednesday as Santorum fell further behind Romney in the delegate count.

Read more
It's All Politics
11:40 am
Wed April 4, 2012

Obama, Romney Define Each Other As General-Election Fight Starts For Real

Romey-Steven Senne/Obama-Carolyn Caster AP

Incumbent presidents generally try to cast their re-election contest as a choice between the imperfect but well-meaning and effective occupant of the White House and the far worse alternative offered by the rival party.

Challengers, on the other hand, try to frame a presidential race as a referendum on the sitting president whose record nearly always contains missteps, or who can be blamed for trouble in the economy or elsewhere.

In short, whether it's the president or the challenger, the way the game is played requires each to define the opposition as well as himself.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:51 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

GSA Clown-Conference Scandal Could Result In Counterproductive Reaction

Former GSA administrator Martha Johnson on Capitol Hill in June 2009.
Harry Hamburg AP

The scandal involving the General Services Administration's by now infamous conference featuring spending on a clown and mind reader is certainly far from the biggest in terms of the overall dollars involved. After all, we're talking about less than $1 million all told.

That's pocket change at the Pentagon, where they can probably find more taxpayer money under the couch cushions.

But it may go down in history as one of the dumbest. A clown and a mind reader at a conference of federal bureaucrats? Really?

Read more
It's All Politics
8:58 am
Tue April 3, 2012

Five Things To Watch For Tuesday In Wisconsin, Maryland, DC

Mitt Romney should have a very good day Tuesday in the Wisconsin, Maryland and District of Columbia GOP primaries.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Tue April 3, 2012 4:28 pm

Once the Republican presidential primaries entered April, leaving behind March with its run of several Southern contests, the electoral terrain was expected to start looking much better for Mitt Romney.

That seems the case Tuesday, as Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia hold the first primaries in April, with a total of 98 delegates at stake. The front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination is expected to have a very good day. Just how good remains to be seen.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:35 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Obama Administration Officials Tripped Up By Clown, Comedian, Mindreader

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue April 3, 2012 11:03 am

A mind reader, a clown and a comedian walk into a bar.

Actually, we don't know about a bar. But we do know they walked into a conference of federal workers held outside Las Vegas in October 2010.

And though it sounds like the start of a joke, it isn't. Someone at the General Services Administration, the federal agency charged with managing government property, actually approved using taxpayer money to pay the three to appear at the meeting.

Read more
It's All Politics
1:38 pm
Fri March 30, 2012

RNC's 'Doctored' And Panned SCOTUS Ad Gets Noticed Which Was Goal

RNC wed ad screenshot

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 2:39 pm

The Republican National Committee's anti-"Obamacare" ad which edited audio of this week's Supreme Court oral arguments to accentuate the pause taken by the Obama administration's lawyer as he began his defense of the law, continued to get significant attention Friday, much of it negative, two days after it first went up on YouTube.

Read more
It's All Politics
9:33 am
Fri March 30, 2012

Friday Political Grab Bag: Rep. Paul Ryan Endorses Mitt Romney Etc

Rep. Paul Ryan gave Mitt Romney the thumbs up Friday. Photo is of Ryan on Thursday, March 29, 2012 on Capitol Hill.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Fri March 30, 2012 10:21 am

Rep. Paul Ryan's endorsed Mitt Romney Friday just ahead of Tuesday's Wisconsin primary. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ryan said: "I think he deserves to be the nominee. I think he earned it. He has emerged as the best candidate." Ryan, a rising star in the party who many wanted to run for president and who is seen as a vice presidential possibility, said a further protracted primary would weaken the party's chances of beating President Obama in November.

Read more
It's All Politics
2:38 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Democrats Embrace 'ObamaCare' To Defang Word's Bite

Supporters of the health care law have recently embraced the term "Obamacare," a word they once recoiled from.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 6:50 pm

A funny thing happened on the way to the Supreme Court and during the three days the court heard oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act. Democrats embraced the "Obamacare" name the law's foes had used as an epithet for two years to deride the law.

In the political equivalent of what happens in battle when the enemy's captured artillery piece is turned around and the opponent's own shells are fired back at them, Democrats decided to take ownership of a word they once seemed to avoid at all costs.

Read more
It's All Politics
12:07 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Santorum Seeks Some Of Reagan's Jelly Belly Magic

A portrait of President Ronald Reagan made from jelly beans at the Jelly Belly Co. visitor center, in Fairfield, Calif., in June 2004. The photo was taken shortly after his death.
STEVE YEATER AP

Originally published on Mon April 2, 2012 11:32 am

For some people, few things say "Ronald Reagan" like Jelly Belly candy, apparently. Which explains why Rick Santorum will be holding a rally at the California headquarters of the candy maker Thursday.

Santorum is scheduled to attend a "Rally for Rick" event at the Jelly Belly Candy Co. facility in Fairfield, Calif.

Read more
It's All Politics
6:09 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

White House Aide To Skeptical Journalists: No Contingency Plan On Health Law

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest in February 2012.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 6:20 pm

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
4:48 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:02 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

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."

Read more
It's All Politics
5:59 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

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?

Read more
It's All Politics
4:15 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Mitt Romney Rival Digs Up Details On GOP Front-Runner's New Man Cave

Mitt Romney at his beach house in La Jolla, Calif., in 2008.
Denis Poroy AP

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 6:21 pm

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
1:27 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
8:27 am
Tue March 27, 2012

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
5:30 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:09 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

GOP Seizes On Obama Open-Mic Comment To Russian Leader

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

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 10:26 am

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
9:43 am
Mon March 26, 2012

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.

Read more

Pages