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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It's All Politics
4:37 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 7:37 pm

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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Politics
4:10 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul Tries To Repair GOP's Image With Minorities

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 9:59 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In recent elections the Republican Party has struggled to find much support among African-American voters. That though did not dissuade Kentucky's Republican Senator Rand Paul from making a pitch yesterday at Howard University, the historically black college in the nation's capital.

NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson was listening.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Rand Paul spoke carefully from a teleprompter and posed this question to his audience of young African-American students.

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Politics
6:33 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Proposition 8 Case Has High Political Stakes For Both Parties

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 4:58 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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Politics
3:43 am
Tue March 19, 2013

RNC Election Report Calls For Minority Outreach, Primary Changes

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 9:42 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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It's All Politics
2:56 am
Thu March 14, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 8:34 am

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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It's All Politics
2:06 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Republicans Face Off Over Strategy For Picking Candidates

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

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 4:36 pm

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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NPR Story
3:41 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Obama's Second Term Cabinet Nears Completion With New Nominations

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 4:34 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

Three new faces joined President Obama today at the White House.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, I'm announcing my plan to nominate three outstanding individuals to help us tackle some of our most important challenges.

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It's All Politics
4:19 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 7:01 pm

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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Politics
4:00 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Obama Speech To Set Second Term's Tone

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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It's All Politics
4:07 am
Sat February 9, 2013

Public Pressure, Background Checks Central To Obama Gun Control Strategy

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

Originally published on Sat February 9, 2013 11:11 am

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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It's All Politics
2:44 am
Fri February 1, 2013

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

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

Originally published on Tue February 12, 2013 10:26 am

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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Politics
4:37 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Obama Calls On Congress To Act To Reduce Gun Violence

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 10:11 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

President Obama says he's done what he could on his own. Yesterday he signed 23 executive orders related to gun control. They will allow federal agencies to strengthen the existing background check system and improve the tracking of stolen guns. The big ticket items, like universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips, will need congressional action.

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It's All Politics
12:54 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 2:16 pm

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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Politics
4:31 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Gun Issues Return To Political Debate

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 5:42 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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It's All Politics
4:52 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Obama And House GOP Engage In Fiscal Cliff Talks, Only Briefly With Each Other

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

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

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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It's All Politics
7:54 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Obama Changes Tack With Congressional Republicans

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

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 11:37 am

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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Politics
6:48 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Post-Election, GOP's Immigration Message Evolves

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

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 11:30 am

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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Around the Nation
3:47 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Obama Promises To Follow Through With Sandy Rebuilding

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 5:10 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Obama returned yesterday to the scene of Hurricane Sandy's devastation; this time, visiting hard-hit areas of New York. He promised to stick with residents until the rebuilding effort is complete. Here's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

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Election 2012
6:17 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Polls Start To Close In Big Battleground States

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 7:08 pm

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

It's All Politics
3:54 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 4:26 pm

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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It's All Politics
3:19 am
Fri October 26, 2012

Do Political Ads Actually Work?

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 10:31 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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Presidential Race
4:53 am
Tue October 23, 2012

Candidates Inject Economy Into Foreign Policy Debate

Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 8:46 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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It's All Politics
1:54 am
Fri October 19, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 12:03 pm

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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It's All Politics
5:13 am
Wed October 3, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 12:38 pm

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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Election 2012
5:04 am
Fri September 21, 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?

Presidential Race
4:10 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Romney Criticizes Obama's Response To Libya Attack

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 4:58 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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Election 2012
3:39 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Obama Wants 4 More Years To Fix Nation's Problems

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 9:15 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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Election 2012
4:35 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Bill Clinton Captivates Delegates, Nominates Obama

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 9:17 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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Election 2012
5:03 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Ryan Tells GOP Delegates U.S. Needs A Turnaround

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 3:53 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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Election 2012
4:18 am
Mon August 27, 2012

Watching Isaac, GOP Delays Opening Convention

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.

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