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
9:59 am
Mon November 5, 2012

On Election Eve, Obama And Romney Try Blazing A Path To 270

A citizen votes on a paper ballot during the final day of early voting Monday in Lancaster, Ohio.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 6:44 pm

(Revised at 5:46 pm ET)

On the final day of the 2012 campaign for the White House, President Obama and Mitt Romney are making the last push for votes in states each believes critical to achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory.

Obama was scheduled to campaign in three swing states, while Romney had events planned in four. The only overlap was in Ohio, considered the linchpin of the election.

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It's All Politics
9:58 am
Sat November 3, 2012

Obama And Romney Enter Crunchtime

The Marine One helicopter carrying President Obama returns to the White House on Friday after Obama spent the day campaigning in Ohio. Both the president and Mitt Romney were to be on the road all weekend, campaigning in a handful of swing states.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Sat November 3, 2012 10:50 am

With the arrival of the last weekend before Election Day, it's crunchtime for President Obama and Mitt Romney.

Heading into the last 72 hours of their fight for the White House, it's the moment in the campaign when the president and his challenger make their closing arguments, fine tuned to excite their committed supporters but not so partisan as to drive off the diminishing sliver of wavering voters still left to be won over.

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It's All Politics
8:04 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Final Pre-Election Jobs Report Can Be Spun By Both Obama And Romney

President Obama gives a girl a high five at a campaign rally in Hilliard, Ohio, on Nov. 2.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 10:20 am

(Revised @ 12 p.m. ET)

The final monthly jobs report before Tuesday's general election contained something for both President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney to work into their closing arguments to voters.

For Obama, it was the news that the economy in October created significantly more jobs — 171,000 — than many economists had forecast. And the Labor Department revised upward the job numbers for September and August, suggesting even more underlying strength in the economy than earlier appeared to be the case.

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It's All Politics
10:31 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Obama Returns To The Post-Sandy Campaign Trail

President Obama campaigns Thursday in Green Bay, Wis.
Tom Lynn AP

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 11:49 am

Just five days before Election Day, President Obama returned to the campaign trail after spending several days preoccupied with overseeing the federal response to the devastation in the Northeast in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Obama began his campaign re-emergence Thursday with a rally in Green Bay, Wis., a state where his once-substantial lead in polls over Republican Mitt Romney has narrowed to only a few points in a majority of the polls.

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It's All Politics
4:12 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

The Destructive Storm That Built An Unlikely Political Bridge

President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at the Brigantine Beach Community Center in Brigantine, N.J., where they met with local residents displaced by Sandy.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Though Superstorm Sandy destroyed much in its path, it did apparently build at least one bridge, that of bipartisanship between President Obama and New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie, a strong ally of Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, and a key critic of the president before the storm, has had little but praise for Obama for the assistance provided to New Jersey leading into the epic storm, which hit this week.

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It's All Politics
2:23 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Sandy Could Dent The Vote, But It's Unclear If It Hurts Obama Or Romney More

First responders rescue flood-stranded people in Little Ferry, N.J., on Tuesday.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 8:36 pm

With the death, destruction, flooding, power outages and transportation disruptions caused by Sandy the Superstorm, it may seem crass to ask about the impact on next week's election.

But here's a question: Could the trail of devastation left by the storm in a part of the nation whose states are generally colored blue in presidential races depress turnout in those states, especially among Democrats?

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It's All Politics
12:20 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Obama And Romney Respond To Sandy With Election (And Katrina) In Mind

President Obama walks toward the White House on Monday after returning to Washington to monitor the government response to Hurricane Sandy.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 12:48 pm

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the week before Election Day is certainly not turning out the way anyone expected, especially the presidential candidates.

President Obama and Mitt Romney found themselves ditching their schedules for the start of the week as they responded to exigencies created by the massive hurricane raking the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

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It's All Politics
3:11 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Obama May Not Need To Repeat 2008 Support From White Voters To Win

The erosion of President Obama's support among white voters means he must rely even more on nonwhites.
Tony Dejak AP

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 4:28 pm

While much of what will happen on Election Day is now unknowable, we can predict with certainty that President Obama won't win a majority of the white vote.

No news there. No Democratic presidential candidate, after all, has received the support of most white voters since President Lyndon Johnson's 1964 historic rout of Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

Still, four years ago, Obama did manage to get a very respectable 43 percent of white voters to choose him over Goldwater's Senate successor from Arizona, Sen. John McCain.

That was then.

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It's All Politics
4:01 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Obama, Romney Tweak Each Other In Swing States

President Obama at a campaign rally at City Park in Denver Wednesday.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 4:08 pm

With 13 days left until the Nov. 6 election, President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, both included trips to Iowa and Nevada on their schedules. Each tried to fire up his supporters and cast doubts about the other to gain an advantage in a race that appears essentially tied.

At rallies in Davenport, Iowa, and Denver, both swing states where the election is fluid, Obama trotted out attack lines he's used in recent days against the former Massachusetts governor.

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It's All Politics
1:49 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

The Race To 270: A Swing State Scorecard

Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 7:11 am

From now until Election Day, the U.S. might as well consist of just eight or so states, not 50.

Those are the battleground states where President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, their running mates and spouses will be spending much of their time in what remains of the 2012 race for the White House.

It's all about amassing the 270 electoral votes required to be elected president. NPR's analysis of the race at this point suggests the eight states that are most in play are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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It's All Politics
4:02 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Obama, Romney Reprise Their Greatest Debate Hits On Campaign Trail

President Obama campaigned at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Wednesday.
Carolyn Kaster AP

A day after their second presidential debate, President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney were in different swing states, reprising some of their greatest hits from Tuesday night.

And "hits" is the exactly the right word because each man energetically repeated attacks he made on his rival.

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It's All Politics
2:07 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Romney's Business Skills Evident In His Strong Debating Style

Mitt Romney at the first presidential debate at the University of Denver on Oct. 3.
Charlie Neibergall AP

If there was any surprise in the first 90-minute presidential debate, it was President Obama's apathetic performance, not Mitt Romney's energetic and assertive pounding of the commander in chief.

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It's All Politics
2:44 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

'I Was Just Too Polite,' Says Obama, Vowing To Hit Hard At Next Debate

President Obama promised to take it to Mitt Romney in future debates.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

No more Mr. Nice Guy. That was essentially what President Obama told Tom Joyner, the black-radio megahost, to expect at upcoming presidential debates.

On Wednesday, the president explained that his main mistake at last week's debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney was an excess of gentility.

Obama's self-critique, such as it was, came in response to a Joyner question:

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It's All Politics
4:20 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Romney Shows His Soft Side; President Tightens His Pitch

Mitt Romney on a farm in Van Meter, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 4:56 pm

With 27 days until the general election, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was on an Iowa farm Tuesday where he did what he's done for months: criticized President Obama's economic policies, though his critique understandably had an agricultural slant.

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It's All Politics
10:25 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Sesame Workshop To Obama Campaign: Leave Big Bird Out Of It

Sesame Workshop asked President Obama's campaign to stop running an ad featuring its Big Bird character.
Obama campaign ad

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:12 am

In its attempt to turn the tables on Mitt Romney following the Republican presidential nominee's big win in the first presidential debate, President Obama's campaign has sought to enlist Big Bird.

The president has repeatedly reminded supporters at rallies that Romney, during the debate, specifically cited Big Bird when he promised to defund the Public Broadcasting Service to reduce federal deficits.

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It's All Politics
9:58 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 10:09 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
4:26 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

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 4:39 pm

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
1:33 pm
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 1:55 pm

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
1:01 pm
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 2:31 pm

Rep. Nancy Pelosi's Republican challenger, John Dennis, won just 15 percent of the vote versus her 80 percent in the 2010 midterm elections, a very good year for the GOP, which took over the House after delivering a historic beat-down to the Democrats.

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It's All Politics
11:57 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 12:19 pm

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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