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
7:09 am
Thu July 17, 2014

The GOP Now Likes Community Organizing (If It Wins Elections)

Republican officials Rob Collins, Phil Cox and Matt Walter all seemed pleased at a briefing for journalists about the GOP's midterm election prospects, as did former first lady Mamie Eisenhower.
Frank James NPR

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 8:56 am

Both parties are sounding confident right now about their midterm election prospects, but only one can be right. As it stands now, Republicans clearly have more reason for optimism.

On their side, Republicans have history and a current political environment in which the Republican base looks to be more excited about the coming election than Democrats.

Meanwhile, voters are consistently telling pollsters that they're dissatisfied with the nation's direction, which usually portends bad news for the party holding the White House.

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It's All Politics
6:54 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Temporary Fix For Highway Money Is Well-Traveled Road

The I-75 highway modernization project in Dayton, Ohio, in April 2014.
Skip Peterson AP

If kicking the can down the road were a competitive sport, the championship trophy would never leave Washington.

When the need to make a difficult choice collides with an unyielding deadline, the tendency in a city where partisan gridlock is the norm is to put the tough decisions off for another day.

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It's All Politics
5:55 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Florida Ruling Is A Primer On Redistricting Chicanery

Florida Republican state Sen. Rene Garcia examines a map of proposed changes in congressional districts in January 2012.
Chris O'Meara AP

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 6:25 pm

If you have some time over the weekend or need a break from the endless LeBron James coverage, you could peruse the highly readable opinion by a Florida judge who invalidated some of the redistricting efforts by the state's Republican Legislature.

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It's All Politics
5:59 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Should President Obama Visit The Texas Border?

Immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally stand in line for bus tickets after their release in June from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in McAllen, Texas.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 6:07 pm

Much of President Obama's presidency currently falls into the category of damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

That certainly is true on the question of whether he should visit the U.S.-Mexico border during his two-day visit to Texas.

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It's All Politics
6:28 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

A Senator Turns His Bible Into A Political Tool

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., walks with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Capitol Hill on June 4.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 7:10 pm

Here are two rules of American politics: Never let an opponent's attacks go unanswered, and if you're running in the South and have a good reason to be pictured holding a Bible, go for it.

The first is a long-standing rule. The second is hard to argue with.

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It's All Politics
4:48 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Red State Democrats Tread Lightly On Hobby Lobby Ruling

When it comes to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn must navigate between her state's conservative electorate and her national party.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri July 4, 2014 11:28 am

For the typical Democrat running in 2014, frequent condemnation of the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby decision is a no-brainer as a rallying cry to raise money and energize voters — especially women.

Monday's ruling allows family-owned and other closely held companies to opt out of the federal health law's contraception mandate if they have religious objections.

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It's All Politics
7:02 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Another Day, Another Reason For Voters To Loathe Congress

The House Ethics Committee dismayed government watchdogs by reducing disclosure requirements for privately paid trips taken by members of Congress.
Matthias Schrader AP

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 7:25 pm

Congressional approval ratings are at rock bottom. Why would members pull a stunt likely to make them even more unpopular than they already are?

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It's All Politics
7:07 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Obama's No-Win Immigration Predicament

President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Biden in the White House Rose Garden, lashed out at House Republicans for stalling immigration legislation.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:41 pm

President Obama's tough predicament on immigration is only getting worse.

He certainly didn't want to be dealing with an influx of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the U.S. across the Southern border, overwhelming the Homeland Security Department's ability to deal with them during a critical midterm election year.

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It's All Politics
8:30 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Will Mississippi's Black Democrats Save A Republican?

Polls give Chris McDaniel the advantage going into Tuesday's runoff for Mississippi's GOP Senate nomination. His 2-year-old son helped rally supporters in Madison, Miss., on Thursday.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

It's a rich irony that on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders risking life and limb in Mississippi to help African-Americans register to vote, black Democrats may decide which Republican wins Tuesday's runoff for the GOP Senate nomination.

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It's All Politics
4:57 am
Sun June 22, 2014

Hillary Clinton, The Inevitable? Sure Seems Like It

Sometimes, you just have to accept the inevitable. But there are a couple years left until the Democratic presidential nominee is officially chosen.
Steven Senne AP

The jockeying for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is already shaping up to be nothing like the 2008 contest. Indeed, it doesn't even resemble a contest. It's not going too far out on a limb to say that, unlike six years ago, the nomination is Hillary Clinton's for the taking, if she wants it.

This will inevitably lead to the idea of her inevitability — and there are few words in politics more despised than that one.

Presidential aspirants have a love-hate relationship with that word when it's attached to them.

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It's All Politics
5:58 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

House Republicans' Top Leadership Gets A Red-State Member

Newly elected House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana (left) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California speak to the media following the House Republican leadership elections on Thursday.
Kevin Dietsch UPI/Landov

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 8:09 pm

House Republicans, whose voter strength can be disproportionately found in the red states of the South and Mountain West, have once again elected a majority leader from a state that voted twice for President Obama. But the race for majority whip was won by a red-state representative who made the case for regional diversity in Republican leadership.

Hailing from California, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy replaces Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, whose surprising primary loss to a political newcomer set the stage for Thursday's leadership elections.

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It's All Politics
7:18 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Iraq's Meltdown Troubles U.S. Political Waters

Before talking about the situation in Iraq, President Obama bantered with (from left to right) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 7:25 pm

Iraq has a long history of roiling American politics. And that doesn't appear about to change anytime soon.

With the Shiite-led Iraqi government losing control of large parts of its country to the Sunni extremist group known as ISIS, the question of who lost Iraq is starting to reverberate through Washington the way "who lost Vietnam" and "who lost China" did in earlier eras.

That all of this is happening during a midterm election stirs even more politics into the mix than if the current violence and ISIS inroads had occurred last year.

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It's All Politics
5:33 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Suspect's Capture Doesn't Arrest Benghazi Suspicions

During a visit to Pittsburgh Tuesday, President Obama comments on the capture of a Libyan militant suspected of the 2012 killings of four Americans in Benghazi.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Does the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a key suspect in the deadly 2012 Benghazi attacks, alter the political polarity of the episode?

If so, the change wasn't immediately apparent.

While Republicans said Tuesday they welcomed the news, they also made clear that their suspicions toward President Obama on all things Benghazi were far from assuaged.

Indeed, what appeared to happen was that Khatallah's apprehension added to — rather than subtracted from — the GOP points of contention with the Obama administration.

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It's All Politics
4:58 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

4 Takeaways From Hillary Clinton's 'Fresh Air' Interview

Hillary Clinton promotes her new book, Hard Choices, in Chicago on Wednesday. The former senator and secretary of state had a lively and much-talked-about chat this week with Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Stacy Thacker AP

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 10:28 pm

So when exactly did Hillary Clinton change her mind on same-sex marriage? That question was left unanswered in the former secretary of state's lively exchange with Fresh Air host Terry Gross.

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It's All Politics
5:05 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Meet David Brat, The Giant-Killer Who Knocked Off Eric Cantor

David Brat, who upset Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor in Tuesday's 7th Congressional District GOP primary, at a May 28 news conference at the Capitol in Richmond.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 8:33 am

Who is David Brat, the slayer of a goliath of congressional politics, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor?

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