NPR: 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.



Tue November 22, 2011


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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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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Thu October 27, 2011

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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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.



Tue October 25, 2011
Election 2012

Perry To Outline Tax-Code Rewrite In S.C. Visit

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry is in South Carolina, where he'll deliver a speech on economic policy and his approach to a flat tax Tuesday. The Texas governor has brought on some new senior staff and is preparing a new round of TV ads in an effort to revive his campaign.


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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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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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.


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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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.


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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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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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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Fri September 2, 2011

Democrats Urge Obama To 'Go Big' With Jobs Package

When a president asks for a prime-time slot to address a joint session of Congress, he is signaling to the country that he has something very important to say. Next Thursday President Obama will once again try to make a hard political pivot to the issue of jobs.

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Wed August 31, 2011

Obama, GOP Candidates Address Veteran Groups

President Obama spoke to the 93rd annual convention of the American Legion in Minneapolis Tuesday. The president laid the groundwork for the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and for his speech next week on jobs and the deficit. GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry addressed the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Texas.


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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Wed July 27, 2011

Debt Impasse Continues In Washington

Both Republicans and Democrats have their own plan to end the debt standoff. But neither party thinks a grand deal is in their interest.


Thu June 2, 2011

Mitt Romney To Make GOP Presidential Run Official

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney today formally gets into the GOP race for the White House. Mary Louise Kelly talks to NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson, who brings us up to date on the field of candidates so far.


Tue May 24, 2011

GOP Field Takes Shape, And Some Don't Like It

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announces in Des Moines, Iowa, that he's running for president on Monday.
Steve Pope Getty Images

The Republicans have another presidential candidate — former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. His formal campaign launch Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, comes after lots of possible GOP candidates decided not to go for it — and that has many in the party grousing about their choices.

Pawlenty's announcement was no surprise. While other potential candidates have been coy or ambivalent, Pawlenty's been all-in for months, visiting the early states to lay the groundwork for a campaign.

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Fri May 20, 2011

Gingrich Backpedals Medicare Comments In Iowa

DACS placeholder - newt is in iowa doing more damage control. meanwhile democrats are saying the fuss over newts comments says even more aobut the gop THAN ABOUTNEWTS FAMOUS LACK OF DISCIPLINE., Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.

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Wed May 18, 2011

In Medicare Debate, Both Sides Claim An Edge

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), shown with Reps. Xavier Becerra (D-CA, left) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), speaks at a news conference last month on Capitol Hill. Pelosi says the Republicans' Medicare plan is a political boon to her party.
Alex Wong Getty Images

One thing Republicans and Democrats have learned in recent years is how to use Medicare to attack the other party. Republicans say Democrats will ruin the program by letting it go bankrupt, while Democrats say the GOP wants to abolish the program altogether.

It's hard for voters to sort out who's telling the truth, and even harder to tell which party will have an advantage on the issue in 2012.

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Tue May 10, 2011

Obama To Lay Out Plan For Immigration Overhaul

President Obama on Tuesday travels to El Paso, Texas, where he's expected to talk about immigration and his goals for legislation this year. The president is trying to push a plan that would include a path to legalizing undocumented workers.


Thu May 5, 2011

Ind. Gov. Daniels Takes Time To Consider Presidential Run

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is expected to make an announcement soon on whether he will run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Daniels was in Washington D.C. Wednesday, speaking at the American Enterprise Institute about his record on overhauling education in Indiana. But he gave no indication if he will run for president.


Mon May 2, 2011
The Spark

Mitch Daniels: A Behind-The-Scenes Player Emerges

Originally published on Tue May 3, 2011 6:42 pm

There are at least a dozen Republicans considering a run for the White House in 2012. As part of a series, NPR is profiling some of them to find out what first sparked their interest in politics.

When asked how he got started in politics, Mitch Daniels has to stop and think.

"Hard to tell," he says. "I did not come from a political family. [But] I did go to Boys State ... so maybe that was one of the starting points."

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Fri April 29, 2011

Debt Crisis Hangs Over Washington Politics

Vice President Joe Biden will begin negotiations next week with House and Senate leaders on a deficit reduction plan that the White House hopes will persuade Congress to raise the ceiling on the federal debt.

If the debt limit isn't raised by early July, the U.S. will default for the first time in history on its financial obligations — an event that could be catastrophic.

Pressure From The Right

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Wed April 20, 2011

Obama Takes Deficit-Reduction Plan On The Road

President Obama plans to control the deficit by cutting some spending on medicare and raising taxes on the rich. He holds a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif, Wednesday. On Tuesday, he was in Annandale, Va., where he answered questions from voters.


Fri April 15, 2011

Budget Roundup

Renee Montagne talks to NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson about the latest news involving federal spending.