Mara Liasson

Mara Liasson is the national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.

Each election year, Liasson provides key coverage of the candidates and issues in both presidential and congressional races. During her tenure she has covered six presidential elections — in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. Prior to her current assignment, Liasson was NPR's White House correspondent for all eight years of the Clinton administration. She has won the White House Correspondents Association's Merriman Smith Award for daily news coverage in 1994, 1995, and again in 1997. From 1989-1992 Liasson was NPR's congressional correspondent.

Liasson joined NPR in 1985 as a general assignment reporter and newscaster. From September 1988 to June 1989 she took a leave of absence from NPR to attend Columbia University in New York as a recipient of a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism.

Prior to joining NPR, Liasson was a freelance radio and television reporter in San Francisco. She was also managing editor and anchor of California Edition, a California Public Radio nightly news program, and a print journalist for The Vineyard Gazette in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

Liasson is a graduate of Brown University where she earned a bachelor's degree in American history.

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4:14pm

Tue July 22, 2014
Law

Obamacare's Split Decisions Spell Law's Possible Return To Supreme Court

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:17 pm

Two different U.S. appeals courts issued opposing verdicts on the Affordable Care Act, one striking down a crucial component of the law while another upheld the same component. NPR's Mara Liasson unravels the political consequences of the conflicting decisions.

4:28pm

Mon July 21, 2014
News

Obama Signs Order To Protect Against Anti-LGBT Bias

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 11:10 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Obama signed an executive order today giving new employment protections to gay and transgender people. And this is for people who work for the government. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports that the move comes after years of pressure from LGBT activists.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: At the White House today, President Obama signed the order saying we're on the right side of history. He said it was time to address this injustice for every American.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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4:27pm

Thu July 17, 2014
Politics

Amid Roiled Landscape Of Border Politics, Obama's Plans May Change

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 8:40 pm

The Obama administration's request for more funds on immigration could get a congressional vote soon. Meanwhile, the crisis at the border is complicating Obama's plan to take unilateral action to ease deportations. The politics of immigration are shifting quickly.

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4:13pm

Tue July 8, 2014
Politics

Obama Requests Nearly $4 Billion In Funds To Speed Deportations

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:13 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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4:25pm

Tue July 1, 2014
Politics

On The Waterfront, Obama Contends Bridge Repair Coffers Beg Refilling

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 7:37 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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5:01am

Thu June 19, 2014
It's All Politics

NPR Poll: In Senate Battleground States, Obama Ratings Lag

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 1:30 pm

NPR

In the key battleground states that will decide control of the Senate this November, President Obama's approval numbers are lower than they are nationally — but not much lower.

That's the key finding in a new poll, conducted by Democrat Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps and Republican Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic, that sampled likely voters for NPR.

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5:02am

Fri June 13, 2014
Politics

The Challenges Behind Accurate Opinion Polls

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 9:27 am

This week's stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor came after his internal polls showed him winning — instead he lost by double digits.

8:31pm

Tue June 10, 2014
Politics

Tea Party Challenger Upsets Eric Cantor In GOP Primary

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 9:25 pm

In a surprise result, voters in Virginia's 7th Congressional District have dealt a defeat to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, nominating Tea Party challenger David Brat instead in the GOP primary.

4:06pm

Mon June 9, 2014
Education

With New Order, Obama Aims To Combat Student Debt Pressures

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 6:42 pm

President Obama is signing an executive order Monday, which will expand a loan forgiveness program for college debt. NPR's Mara Liasson looks at the program and the political salience of the issue.

1:31pm

Sat May 10, 2014
She Votes

Easy On The Ears: GOP Ads Adapt To Reach Women Voters

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 10:02 am

Dr. Monica Wehby, pediatric neurosurgeon, is among the Republican candidates turning up the emotions in campaign ads.
Dave Killen The Oregonian/Landov

It's only April, but it looks and sounds like October. More than $80 million has been spent on political advertising in only about a dozen Senate battleground states.

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3:28am

Tue April 22, 2014
Politics

'Ready For Hillary': Clinton's Campaign-In-Waiting

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 3:09 pm

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote address in San Francisco.
Ben Margot AP

In a high-rise office in Rosslyn, Va., Adam Parkhomenko is selling campaign paraphernalia for a campaign that may or may not happen.

"Bumper stickers, magnets, and then we have everything from T-shirts, we have baby onesies that we're almost out of now," says Parkhomenko.

Parkhomenko runs a group called Ready for Hillary. It's more than a Clinton fan club: It's a superPAC, a list-building superPAC.

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3:40am

Thu April 3, 2014
Politics

NPR Poll: Obamacare More Popular Than President

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 1:04 pm

President Obama, with Vice President Biden, speaks about the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday in the Rose Garden.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

A new bipartisan NPR poll shows approval numbers rising for Obamacare — which is now slightly more popular than its namesake.

Our survey of likely voters, conducted for Morning Edition by Democrat Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps and Republican Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic, shows the president's health care law is still unpopular, but it might not be as heavy a millstone for Democrats as expected.

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3:22am

Mon March 24, 2014
Politics

Democrats Count On The Fine Art Of Field Operations

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 12:25 pm

Newly elected GOP Congressman David Jolly of Florida, right, poses for a ceremonial swearing-in with Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, on March 13. Jolly edged out Democrat Alex Sink in a special election that Republicans cast as a referendum on President Obama and his unpopular health care law.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Democrats have had great success in recent presidential elections registering, targeting and turning out their core voters. Now they're hoping to use that sophisticated field operation to to stave off defeat in this year's midterm elections.

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4:12pm

Wed March 12, 2014
News

Obama Rolls Out White House Welcome Mat For Ukrainian Prime Minister

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 8:14 pm

Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is visiting the White House Wednesday. The meeting comes days before a vote in Crimea over whether to secede from Ukraine.

4:16pm

Thu March 6, 2014
Politics

As CPAC Opens, GOP Stars Take Turns At The Podium

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 7:50 pm

The Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists, routinely attracts big names in the Republican party — and this year's no different. It starts Thursday.

6:29pm

Thu February 6, 2014
Politics

As Deficit Anxiety Fades, Debt Rears Its Ugly Head

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:55 pm

President Obama tours a Costco location in Lanham, Md., on Jan. 29, before speaking about raising the federal minimum wage.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Democrats and Republicans have exhausted themselves politically after failing to reach a grand bargain to reduce the debt. Now there's a new economic debate in Washington over economic growth, mobility and income inequality.

But without dealing with the debt, Republicans and Democrats might not be able to navigate even the issues they agree on.

Moving Away From The Deficit

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5:30pm

Tue January 28, 2014
Politics

Hoping For Hope: Obama Seeks A Return To Optimism In Address

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 6:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, for more on the president's speech, we're joined by NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hello, Audie.

CORNISH: So listening to Jay Carney just now, what do you think is the president's overriding goal tonight?

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5:12am

Fri January 24, 2014
Politics

Boehner Picks Cathy McMorris Rodgers For GOP Rebuttal

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 10:16 am

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., walks to a Sept. 2013 classified, members-only briefing on Syria in Washington.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Tuesday night is the State of the Union Address — the biggest opportunity President Obama gets all year to speak to the American people about his priorities. There's also another speech that night — the GOP response. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner announced Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington State would deliver the official rebuttal.

7:23am

Sat December 14, 2013
Politics

White House Hires A Crisis Manager, Easing Democratic Worries

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

John Podesta was Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff from 1998 to 2001, helping the president survive impeachment.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

It's not big enough to be called a shakeup, but the new hire announced this week at the White House is important: John Podesta will come on board in January as a counselor to the president.

Podesta is a Democratic wise man, the founder of the Center for American Progress, a policy and personnel incubator for Democratic administrations, and he just started a new think tank on income inequality — the problem President Obama says will animate his second term.

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8:05am

Sat December 7, 2013
Politics

Social Security Fight Exposes Democratic Divide On Populism

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 1:51 pm

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading a push to increase Social Security benefits. But her whole party is not in agreement on the issue.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

American politics is having a populist moment, with voters angry and frustrated with all big institutions in American life.

The backlash against big government found its expression on the right with the Tea Party. The tensions between that movement and the Republican establishment have been on full display.

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3:25am

Mon November 18, 2013
It's All Politics

States Aim To Cure Hyperpartisanship With Primary Changes

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:42 pm

To fight hyperpartisanship and redistricting aimed at keeping politicians safe in their district, some states are experimenting with new primary voting systems.
Jae C. Hong AP

Several states are trying to do something about so-called hyperpartisanship by changing the way congressional districts are drawn and the way elections are held.

Their goal: force members of Congress to pay more attention to general election voters than to their base voters on the right or left.

John Fortier, the director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which is working on ways to make politics less dysfunctional, says U.S. political parties have become more polarized.

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10:45am

Fri November 1, 2013
It's All Politics

Top Pollster Sees Evidence Of Political 'Shock Wave'

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 12:41 pm

Demonstrators march toward the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to demand that Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs.
Fang Zhe Xinhua/Landov

Here's an email that caught my eye Thursday. It's from Republican Bill McInturff, one of the best pollsters around and not someone known to hyperbolize. He was discussing the results of this month's NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, which he conducts with Democrat Peter Hart.

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5:48am

Wed October 30, 2013
NPR Story

Lawmakers To Grill Sebelius On Affordable Care Act

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. More hearings come today on the messy rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will face questions from the House, Energy and Commerce Committee. Now, yesterday, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid testified before a different committee. Marilyn Tavenner offered consumers an apology for the problems at the health care.gov website.

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8:33pm

Thu October 10, 2013
NPR Story

What's Behind The Partisan Thaw In Washington?

On Thursday, President Obama met with Senate Democrats. Then he met with House Republicans. And White House staff members continued talks with their counterparts from the House GOP leadership. All that talking just a day after there was radio silence between the two parties. One strong possibility for the change in attitudes is a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that shows that the majority of Americans blame Republicans for the ongoing government shutdown and just 20 percent of people approve of the Republican party.

5:22pm

Thu October 10, 2013
It's All Politics

How Political Miscalculations Led To The Shutdown Standoff

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 8:33 pm

The Capitol is seen under an overcast sky at dawn on Monday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The standoff over the debt ceiling and the government shutdown showed signs of softening Thursday.

House Speaker John Boehner said he would bring a temporary hike in the debt ceiling to the House floor in exchange for negotiations on government spending and taxes. Democrats say if the House votes to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government, they will negotiate.

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7:56pm

Wed October 2, 2013
Politics

Boehner, Obama Meet But Make No Progress On Deal To End Shutdown

Day two of the government shutdown is nearing its finish, with no end in sight. And that's in spite of talks at the White House late today. President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner for over an hour Wednesday evening. The meeting failed to produce a deal that would end the federal government shutdown.

6:03pm

Wed September 25, 2013
Politics

Every Move She Makes, Pundits Are Watching Hillary Clinton

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 11:09 pm

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City on Wednesday.
Ramin Talaie Getty Images

When she left the Obama administration, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she just wanted to sleep late and walk her dog. But that hasn't happened.

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5:29am

Sat September 21, 2013
It's All Politics

Have Obama's Troubles Weakened Him For Fall's Fiscal Fights?

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 11:34 am

President Obama arrives on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.
Evan Vucci AP

President Obama has had a tough year. He failed to pass gun legislation. Plans for an immigration overhaul have stalled in the House. He barely escaped what would have been a humiliating rejection by Congress on his plan to strike Syria.

Just this week, his own Democrats forced Larry Summers, the president's first choice to head the Federal Reserve, to withdraw.

Former Clinton White House aide Bill Galston says all these issues have weakened the unity of the president's coalition.

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6:24pm

Thu August 29, 2013
World

U.K. Vote Against Syria Strike A Major Setback For Obama

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 11:59 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

So where does this leave the Obama administration? For more on that, I'm joined by NPR's Mara Liasson. And Mara, what's the White House reaction been to this vote in the British Parliament tonight?

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5:07pm

Wed July 10, 2013
Politics

Marco Rubio: Poster Boy For The GOP Identity Crisis

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 6:13 pm

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., walks toward the stage as he is introduced at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in June.
Charles Dharapak AP

The Republican Party seems like two parties these days. In the Senate, Republicans joined a two-thirds majority to pass an immigration bill. But in the House, Republicans are balking.

Strategist Alex Lundry says it's hard to figure out the way forward when your party's base of power is the House of Representatives.

"One problem we have in the wilderness is that there are a thousand chiefs," he says. "And it is hard to get a party moving when you don't have somebody at the top who is a core leader who can be directive."

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