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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6:20am

Wed January 4, 2012
Election 2012

Iowa Spotlight Shines On Romney, Santorum And Paul

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were the big winners Tuesday night in the Iowa caucuses. They finished first, second and third respectively. Romney won by the narrowest of margins — eight votes.

12:01am

Thu December 15, 2011
It's All Politics

State Of The GOP Race: Are We In For A Protracted Primary Season?

Originally published on Thu December 15, 2011 11:53 am

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich face off at the ABC News GOP Presidential Debate on Dec. 10.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

The mitts are off, so to speak, in the Republican presidential primary. Mitt Romney, the former front-runner, and his current and most serious rival, Newt Gingrich, are now engaged in an all-out war.

With only a few short weeks until voters in Iowa go to the caucuses, Romney is doing everything he can to stop Gingrich's sudden and surprising rise.

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5:02am

Thu December 8, 2011
Presidential Race

Gingrich, Romney Offer Stark Immigration Choice

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney (left) and Newt Gingrich shake hands after a Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Fla.
Mike Carlson AP

There are many flashpoints between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney as they battle for the Republican presidential nomination. Most of them are about character or leadership: Who can beat President Obama? Who's the real conservative?

But Gingrich and Romney do have one big policy difference — and that's on immigration.

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6:49pm

Thu December 1, 2011
U.S.

Obama's Hope: A Younger, More Diverse Electorate

The American electorate is getting more diverse, more educated and younger. These demographic trends seem to suggest that voters could, in theory at least, be more Obama-friendly in 2012, especially in some key states. But it's not clear whether these shifts can outweigh the dragging economy and the president's dismal approval ratings.

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1:37pm

Tue November 22, 2011

12:01am

Thu November 17, 2011
Election 2012

Political Climate Ripe For A Third-Party Prospect

Originally published on Thu November 17, 2011 2:02 pm

Ross Perot, shown on a video screen, addresses the Reform Party's national convention in July 1999 in Dearborn, Mich. The billionaire founder of the Reform Party, Perot ran for president as a third-party candidate in both 1992 and 1996.
Jeff Kowalsky AFP/Getty Images

Voter dissatisfaction with both parties is at an all-time high — and voters' trust in Washington is at an all-time low.

This is the kind of political climate that is welcoming for an alternative to the Democrats and the Republicans.

Pollster Stan Greenberg worked for Bill Clinton in 1992, when third-party candidate Ross Perot roiled the race. If it happened back then, Greenberg says, it can happen again next year.

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4:47pm

Tue November 8, 2011
Election 2012

Can Obama Make History Again?

Originally published on Wed November 9, 2011 11:23 am

President Obama greets diners in Los Angeles last month. He faces long odds in his quest for re-election. Among them: unemployment, eroding support among independent voters and approval ratings that are well below those of previous presidents who won a second term.
Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

Three years ago, the state of Virginia flipped. It had voted for George W. Bush in 2004, but in 2008, it went for Barack Obama, with the help of independent voters like Emily Perri. But as Perri cast her ballot in local elections in Fairfax on Tuesday morning, she wasn't so sure she would vote for the president again.

"I'm not entirely positive, you know, another four years will help improve things or not under Obama," Perri said.

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5:40am

Thu October 27, 2011
Politics

Protests Pick Up Steam; Will Obama Get Burned?

It's not clear yet whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will be a good thing or a bad thing for Democrats. That's why President Obama always treads carefully when asked about them.

"People are frustrated, and that frustration has expressed itself in a lot of different ways," he said Tuesday on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. "It expressed itself in the Tea Party. It's expressing itself in Occupy Wall Street."

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6:03pm

Tue October 25, 2011
Election 2012

The GOP Campaign Ad Wars, As Seen On YouTube

Originally published on Tue October 25, 2011 10:29 pm

A new ad from Herman Cain features his campaign manager, Mark Block, taking a drag from a cigarette.

YouTube

12:01am

Thu October 20, 2011
Election 2012

A 'Spirited' Primary Could Be What The GOP Needs

Originally published on Thu October 20, 2011 11:50 am

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (left) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry got into a heated exchange about immigration during Tuesday's GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas.

Ethan Miller Getty Images

Tuesday night's brawl of a debate in Las Vegas erased any doubt that the fight for the Republican presidential nomination would get bitter. Texas Gov. Rick Perry aggressively parried former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who looked rattled for the first time.

If that hand-to-hand combat continues, the Republican primary could just become a long, drawn-out fight. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing for the eventual nominee is unclear.

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3:17pm

Fri October 14, 2011
Herman Cain

Cain Says He's Not Just A Flavor Of The Week

The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza has surprised a lot of people by rising to the top of the pack in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Herman Cain hasn't been traveling to many pancake breakfasts in Iowa or town halls in New Hampshire, but his polished speeches and debate performances have thrilled Republican voters.

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4:29am

Fri October 7, 2011
National Security

Partisan Divide On National Security Shrinks

GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney travels to the Citadel in South Carolina to deliver a speech on national security Friday. The issue has traditionally been a bright line between hawks and doves, Republicans and Democrats. But even on this, the third anniversary of President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the politics are no longer clear cut.

4:04pm

Thu September 29, 2011
Rick Perry

Can Rick Perry Regain His Momentum?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference this month in Orlando, Fla. The next day, he finished a disappointing second in the Florida GOP straw poll.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Texas Gov. Rick Perry rocketed to the top of the field after he jumped in the race for the GOP nomination for president last month.

His early rise in the polls was based on what Republican voters thought they knew about him. But the debates gave Republicans a chance to see Perry in action — and the normally aggressive Texas governor has been forced into the uncomfortable position of defense.

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4:00am

Fri September 23, 2011
NPR Story

Romney, Perry Dominate GOP Presidential Debate

Even though there were nine contenders, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry were the highlights of much of Thursday night's GOP presidential debate in Orlando, Fla. The two leading candidates had a chance to attack each others positions on social security, health care and immigration.

12:01am

Thu September 22, 2011
Mitt Romney

Former GOP Front-Runner Romney Seeks Opening

Originally published on Thu September 22, 2011 2:53 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall meeting at the Doubletree Miami Airport hotel as he campaigns in South Florida on Wednesday. Romney is participating in a GOP debate in Orlando on Thursday night.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The Republican presidential candidates debate again Thursday night — this time in Orlando, Fla.

Mitt Romney, who comes to Florida as the former front-runner, is eager to find a way to knock the newest candidate in the race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, off his perch as the new GOP leader.

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4:37pm

Tue September 20, 2011
Barack Obama

With Leadership Questioned, Obama Gets In The Fray

President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday. Obama laid out a plan for trillions in deficit cuts but warned Republicans he will veto any bill that makes structural changes to Medicare unless they agree to additional revenues.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

There's been a sea change at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It's almost as if the cerebral, detached president went into a phone booth and came out a fighting Democrat.

In the Rose Garden on Monday, as President Obama laid out his vision for how the congressional supercommittee could find trillions in savings, he was no longer above the fray. He was right in the fray. And he made it clear he has given up on his so far fruitless search for common ground with the Republicans.

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1:49pm

Fri September 16, 2011
Barack Obama

N.Y. Special Election Shows Obama's Trials To Come

A crowd cheers as Republican Bob Turner appears on stage during an election night party on Tuesday in New York. The traditionally Democratic and Jewish district elected Turner, revealing the problems Obama may have with political strongholds in the 2012 election.
Mary Altaffer AP

This week brought another slew of bad political news for President Obama. The Democrats lost two special elections: one in a Republican-leaning district in Nevada, and one in a Democratic stronghold in New York.

There are also new polls showing the president's support weakening among Democratic voters in blue states.

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3:00pm

Wed September 7, 2011
NPR Story

In GOP Debate, Candidates Likely To Focus On Perry

On Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, the leading Republican candidates for president will meet for a debate. It's the first featuring newly minted frontrunner Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

12:01am

Tue August 30, 2011
Hurricane Irene Hits East Coast

In Irene, Politicians Navigate Tides Of Public Opinion

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:28 am

On Saturday, President Obama and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate attended a video teleconference led by FEMA as Irene made its way up the Eastern Seaboard.
Pool Getty Images

The effects of Hurricane Irene are still being felt and their costs being measured — from billion-dollar damages in New Jersey to ongoing flooding in New England.

For local and national leaders, natural disasters can sometimes be political disasters — or opportunities.

The lessons of Hurricane Katrina are seared into the memory of President Obama and every other politician in America. The president made sure that his emergency team was prepared and competent. He showed up at FEMA headquarters over the weekend, and Monday he gave an update from the Rose Garden.

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