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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4:47am

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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5:07am

Sat February 9, 2013
It's All Politics

Public Pressure, Background Checks Central To Obama Gun Control Strategy

Originally published on Sat February 9, 2013 12:11 pm

President Obama speaks about his gun control agenda before law enforcement officials in Minneapolis on Monday. The president was doing what his aides say he didn't do often enough in his first term: getting outside of Washington to build public support for legislation.
Ben Garvin Getty Images

Gun control historically has been one of the most divisive issues in Congress, between the parties and even inside the Democratic coalition. Yet some in President Obama's own party say he has put together a gun agenda that is sweeping without being too painful for most Democrats to support.

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3:44am

Fri February 1, 2013
It's All Politics

Hillary Clinton Leaving The Stage — At Least For Now — And On A High Note

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 11:26 am

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a town hall meeting on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. She officially leaves her post on Friday.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton leaves her job Friday as secretary of state with sky-high approval ratings, and there's already a superPAC established urging her to run for president in 2016.

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4:52am

Tue January 22, 2013
Race

Civil Rights Highlighted On Inauguration Day

Originally published on Tue January 22, 2013 10:06 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

Four years ago, President Obama delivered an inaugural speech that many viewed as somber. He took office facing two wars and a global economic crisis.

INSKEEP: Yesterday, the president declared a decade of war is now ending. And he took a position in the economic battles that remain.

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1:34pm

Tue December 18, 2012
It's All Politics

Low-Profile Power Player Jack Lew May Be In Line For Treasury Post

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 3:16 pm

President Obama walks with White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew on March 2 on the South Lawn of the White House.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Ask the average person — even in Washington — who serves as President Obama's chief of staff and you'll probably get a blank stare.

Jack Lew hasn't been heard or seen in the "fiscal cliff" drama unfolding between the White House and Congress. But the former budget director, who took over the top White House job last January, has become a key player behind the scenes.

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5:31am

Tue December 18, 2012
Politics

Gun Issues Return To Political Debate

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 6:42 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the wake of those mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut, there is a new conversation in Washington about gun laws. And there are signs that the outcome could be different than in the past.

Here's NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

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5:33pm

Wed December 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama And House GOP Engage In Fiscal Cliff Talks, Just Not With Each Other

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 6:30 pm

President Obama is introduced to the Business Roundtable by Boeing CEO Jim McNerney in Washington on Wednesday.
Charles Dharapak AP

The president and House Republicans continued to snipe at each other Wednesday over the impending set of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. They traded accusations and blame during another day with plenty of talk, but — until late in the day, at least — no negotiations.

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9:13am

Tue December 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Obama Starts His Second Term By Bringing Tougher Talk

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 12:37 pm

President Obama speaks at the National Defense University in Washington on Monday. Since his re-election four weeks ago, Obama is showing signs of a new, more aggressive leadership style.
Charles Dharapak AP

Throughout his first term, some of President Obama's critics said he wasn't a tough enough negotiator. They felt he caved to Republicans too early, too often. Since his re-election, Obama has subtly changed his approach. He's bringing a more aggressive style — but some critics say it's not the best way to find common ground.

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7:33am

Wed November 28, 2012
Politics

Post-Election, GOP's Immigration Message Evolves

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 12:30 pm

Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona on Tuesday introduced a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country, but would not offer them a path to citizenship.
Alex Wong Getty Images

After an election in which Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for President Obama, the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill are making overtures about immigration reform.

House Speaker John Boehner says he's sure he can make a deal next year with the White House on a comprehensive bill. A steady procession of prominent GOP leaders are warning that Republicans won't win the White House again without improving their outreach to Latino voters. On Monday, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio explained the problem this way.

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7:02pm

Tue November 6, 2012
Election 2012

Polls Start To Close In Big Battleground States

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 8:08 pm

Lynn Neary talks to Mara Liasson for an election update as polls start to close.

5:07pm

Tue October 30, 2012
It's All Politics

Re-Election Campaign Reveals A President Looking For The Right Balance

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 5:26 pm

President Obama's performance in the first presidential debate cost him a lot.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

As this long election comes to end, Superstorm Sandy is offering a chance for President Obama to showcase his leadership skills one last time.

For Obama, this campaign has truly been a fight against the elements: a painfully slow economic recovery and a political landscape in which the Republicans swept the table just two years ago. The Obama campaign, with its trademark discipline and meticulous organization, set out to overcome these obstacles.

But the long campaign has also put the spotlight on features of Obama's own personality and performance.

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4:19am

Fri October 26, 2012
It's All Politics

Do Political Ads Actually Work?

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 11:31 am

Democrats and Republicans are on track to spend about $1 billion each on television advertising in the presidential race. Most of it is negative, and almost all of it is concentrated in nine battleground states.

If you live in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia or Wisconsin, you cannot get away from the ad blitz being waged by both sides. For the folks who track political advertising at Kantar Media CMAG, these commercials tell a story.

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5:53am

Tue October 23, 2012
Presidential Race

Candidates Inject Economy Into Foreign Policy Debate

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 9:46 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

The third and final presidential debate was less dramatic than the ones before.

GREENE: Less dramatic but not without some drama. President Obama and Mitt Romney discussed foreign policy under the questioning of moderator Bob Schieffer.

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2:54am

Fri October 19, 2012
It's All Politics

The Third-Party Factor: Will 2012 Look Like 2000?

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 1:03 pm

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson addresses students at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., in September.
Jim Mone AP

As the presidential race enters its final weeks, there are many factors that could affect the outcome: a great — or terrible — debate performance by one of the candidates on Monday in Florida; the next jobs report; or the presence of third-party candidates who are on the ballot in almost every state.

Gary Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico who's running on the Libertarian ticket, is on the ballot in 48 states.

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6:03am

Wed October 3, 2012
It's All Politics

On Eve Of First Debate, NPR Poll Shows Romney Within Striking Distance

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 1:38 pm

Early voting has begun in the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia and Iowa. Voting booths were set up for early voting Thursday at the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo, Iowa. Ahead of Wednesday's first presidential debate, an NPR poll finds President Obama with a 7-point lead nationally, but his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, is within striking distance.
Scott Olson Getty Images

The latest poll by NPR and its bipartisan polling team [pdf] shows President Obama with a 7-point lead among likely voters nationally and a nearly identical lead of 6 points in the dozen battleground states where both campaigns are spending most of their time and money.

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6:04am

Fri September 21, 2012
Election 2012

Romney Argues For The Proper Role Of Government

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been busy after a tape emerged of him telling wealthy donors that nearly half of Americans see themselves as victims dependent on the federal government. Now he's trying to make those remarks part of a broader argument: What is the proper role of government and who should pay for it?

5:39pm

Wed September 12, 2012
Presidential Race

Romney Criticizes Obama's Response To Libya Attack

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It didn't take long for the attacks in Benghazi and Cairo to become part of the presidential campaign. Mitt Romney jumped in first. In a statement last night before Ambassador Stevens' death had been announced, Romney accused President Obama of sympathizing with those who waged the assault. The Obama campaign responded, saying it was shocked that Romney would launch a, quote, "political attack" at this moment. And the politics have continued today as NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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4:46am

Fri September 7, 2012
Election 2012

Obama Wants 4 More Years To Fix Nation's Problems

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 10:15 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.

As he accepted his party's nomination for a second term last night, President Obama said that building a better future will take him more time.

MONTAGNE: The president told his supporters at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte that the progress he'd made so far would be reversed if Mitt Romney won the White House.

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5:24am

Thu September 6, 2012
NPR Story

Bill Clinton Captivates Delegates, Nominates Obama

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 10:17 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning. Renee Montagne is back at NPR West. Renee, welcome back.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Thank you very much. After a nice vacation, and so glad to be here, because big news: President Obama speaks to the Democratic Convention tonight. Just as with Mitt Romney last week, the president will have a huge audience to make his case.

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5:25am

Wed September 5, 2012
Election 2012

First Lady Stays Above The Fray In Convention Speech

First Lady Michelle Obama was one of the stars on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. She delivered a ringing, impassioned plea for the re-election of her husband, President Barack Obama.

4:44am

Fri August 31, 2012
Election 2012

Mitt Romney Makes His Case For Change

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 12:48 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. During his acceptance speech last night at the Republican convention, Mitt Romney told a story about his father. He said his father gave his mother a rose every day, and left it by the bed. She found out he had died on the day the rose did not appear.

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6:03am

Thu August 30, 2012
Election 2012

Ryan Tells GOP Delegates U.S. Needs A Turnaround

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 4:53 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

But now to Tampa, where this evening Mitt Romney will formally accept his party's nomination for president.

Last night, though, the stage belonged to vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. In a campaign, it often falls to the running mate to be the attack dog and Ryan sounded up for the job. It was also a chance for the rising GOP star to defend his own ideas.

Here's NPR's national correspondent Mara Liasson.

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5:15am

Mon August 27, 2012
Election 2012

Watching Isaac, GOP Delays Opening Convention

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 5:18 am

Republicans have decided to delay the official start of their presidential nominating convention until Tuesday. Tropical Storm Isaac is causing weather-related issues around Tampa, Florida. As the convention is about to begin, polls show GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is tied with President Obama.

5:16am

Thu August 16, 2012
Health Care

GOP VP Nominee Drives Medicare Campaign Issue

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 4:53 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

When Mitt Romney put Paul Ryan on the ticket, it had the potential to reset the presidential race - that is, offer a choice between two radically different visions of government, in a campaign seemingly stuck in tit-for-tat attacks over the economy. So far, though, the campaigns have a somewhat different fight on their hands. NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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5:52pm

Tue July 24, 2012
It's All Politics

Are Candidates Missing The Big Picture?

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 6:31 pm

President Obama speaks at the Fox Theater in Oakland, Calif., on Monday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

If the stakes could not be bigger, why are the presidential candidates running such insubstantial campaigns?

On any given day, it seems like the debate is about whether President Obama thinks entrepreneurs built their own businesses or what year Mitt Romney gave up control of Bain Capital — instead of big solutions to fundamental problems like economic growth, energy or immigration.

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4:43am

Tue July 10, 2012
It's All Politics

Romney Outraises Obama By $35 Million In June

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 2:02 pm

The latest fundraising numbers are in for the two presidential campaigns, and the amounts are eye-popping. President Obama and the Democratic Party raised $71 million, which is an enormous haul. But it was dwarfed by Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee, which together raised $106 million in the month of June.

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3:00am

Mon July 9, 2012
Politics

Campaigns Play The Numbers To Tip Election Favor

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 5:28 am

There are two big factors that will determine the outcome of the presidential election: the economy and demographics.

The economy is weak and doesn't look likely to improve by much, but the makeup of the electorate on the other hand is highly dynamic. It continues a trend underway for years: a rapid rise in the number of people who are not Anglos in both the population and at the polls.

That percentage actually doubled between 1992 and 2008, says Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University.

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5:26am

Fri June 29, 2012
Politics

Health Care Ruling To Fuel Presidential Campaigns

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 4:16 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

The Supreme Court surprised almost everyone yesterday when it upheld the heart of President Obama's health care law: a requirement that everyone either have insurance or pay a fine or tax. It's a big victory for president. It also gives his challenger, Mitt Romney, some important opportunities.

Here's NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson.

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4:17am

Thu June 21, 2012
Election 2012

Romney, Obama Fine-Tune Pitches To Latino Voters

Originally published on Thu June 21, 2012 9:13 am

Voter walk outside of a polling place at the First Baptist Church of Windermere, in Orlando, Fla., during the state's primary on Jan. 31.
Matt Rourke AP

President Obama and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney are taking their stump speeches to a prominent group of elected Latino officials this week.

Romney will address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, or NALEO, Thursday. Obama takes his turn Friday.

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8:02pm

Tue June 12, 2012
Election 2012

As GOP Cashes In, Democrats Search For Billionaires

President Obama at a Democratic Party election fundraiser in Chicago on June 1.
Jason Reed Reuters/Landov

The big story of this year's election campaign is big money. Since the Supreme Court, through its Citizens United ruling, has made it easier for corporations, unions and rich individuals to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, Republicans have seized the advantage.

Right now, an analysis by NPR finds that Republican allied groups are outspending their Democratic counterparts by 8 to 1.

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