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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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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8:01am

Wed June 12, 2013
National Security

Surveillance Revelations Spark Lackluster Public Discord

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 5:53 am

When a former IT contractor at the National Security Agency gave The Guardian U.S. government surveillance information, he told the paper that his only motivation was to spark a public debate about government surveillance.

"This is something that's not our place to decide," Edward Snowden said. "The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong."

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6:27pm

Wed May 8, 2013
It's All Politics

With Texas Trip, Obama Tries To Steer Focus Back To Economy

President Obama answers questions during a news conference on April 30.
Charles Dharapak AP

President Obama turns his attention back to his economic agenda Thursday when he travels to Austin, Texas, where he will visit a technology high school and a company that makes the machines that make silicon chips.

The White House says the trip is part of Obama's Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. It also appears to be an effort by the president to get back to the issues Americans care most about.

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8:16pm

Thu April 25, 2013
Middle East

White House Undecided On Action For Syria Crossing 'Red Line'

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Has the so-called red line been crossed in Syria? Today, the Obama administration said it believes the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons and, as President Obama has said in the past, that is a red line that would trigger serious consequences. But as NPR's Mara Liasson reports, the administration says it still has to evaluate the evidence and decide what actions to take.

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5:37pm

Wed April 17, 2013
It's All Politics

Immigration Proves A 'Rubik's Cube' For Many Republicans

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 8:37 pm

Protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Capitol on April 10.
Allison Shelley Getty Images

While an immigration overhaul has drawn support from church groups, business, labor and even former opponents, there's still deep opposition — mostly centered in the Republican Party.

The last time a president tried to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul was in 2007, and George W. Bush's fellow Republicans in Congress killed his bill. Republican strategist Kevin Madden says a lot has changed since then — including the way the Republican Party is dealing with its own internal divisions.

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7:33pm

Tue March 26, 2013
Politics

Proposition 8 Case Has High Political Stakes For Both Parties

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We'll learn what the court decides to do about DOMA and California's Proposition 8 sometime this summer. Its options vary widely. But no matter what the result, there will be political implications.

NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us to walk through some of them.

And, Mara, first, let's talk briefly about this really sea change in public opinion now in favor of same-sex marriage. Could the court reverse that tide in any way?

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4:43am

Tue March 19, 2013
Politics

RNC Election Report Calls For Minority Outreach, Primary Changes

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 10:42 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the Republican Party has issued a blistering assessment of why it lost the 2012 election. The Republican National Committee Growth and Opportunity Project told the party that if it wants to win national elections in the future, it needs to change the way it communicates with voters and runs its campaigns.

NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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3:56am

Thu March 14, 2013
It's All Politics

It's Still Early, But GOP Hopefuls Test The Waters For 2016

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 9:34 am

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, considered a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, was not invited to speak at CPAC.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

During the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that begins Thursday, a slew of men who appear to want to try their hand at leading the GOP back to the White House in 2016 will be speaking, though not every potential presidential candidate was invited.

Yes, it's four years away, but that hasn't stopped Republican hopefuls from testing the waters. There are already polls — for whatever they're worth — of potential GOP candidates.

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3:06am

Wed March 13, 2013
It's All Politics

Republicans Face Off Over Strategy For Picking Candidates

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 5:36 pm

Karl Rove and the big donors behind his Crossroads superPAC have formed a new group, the Conservative Victory Project, to vet and recruit Republican Senate candidates.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Republicans have a steep hill to climb if they want to take control of the Senate next year. The GOP would need to pick up six seats in 2014.

There are plenty of open seats and vulnerable Democrats up for re-election, but Republicans are debating the best way to win.

Last year's Senate results were disappointing for the GOP: The party ended up losing a number of seats it thought were winnable — and now it's trying to figure out what to do differently next year.

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5:19pm

Fri March 1, 2013
It's All Politics

One Strategy For A GOP Overhaul? Follow The Democrats' Example

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 8:01 pm

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, shown here in August at the Republican National Convention, has named a five-member task force to conduct a review of what went wrong for his party in the November elections.
Charles Dharapak AP

These are difficult times for the Republican Party. In the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Democrats led Republicans — in some cases by double digits — on issues like Medicare, taxes and the economy.

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6:35am

Fri February 15, 2013
Politics

Automatic Budget Cuts Near As Democrats, GOP Stand Firm

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 8:39 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

With Congress headed for a recess, prospects are dimming for a deal to keep the nation from falling off the next fiscal cliff - sequestration. That's the term for automatic spending cuts that go into effect March 1.

NPR's Mara Liasson explains how the White House and Congress got to this impasse and why it's so hard to get past it.

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4:47am

Tue February 12, 2013
Politics

Obama Speech To Set Second Term's Tone

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 5:00 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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