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

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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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.

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.

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.

Democrats knew that they would be disadvantaged under the new campaign finance rules created by the Supreme Court. But the disparity between the amount of money Republicans can raise in unlimited anonymous donations and what the Democrats have been able to raise is huge.

Former President Bill Clinton and President Obama used to have a famously rocky relationship. But the days when Clinton tried to help his wife, now secretary of state, defeat Obama in the 2008 primaries are ancient history.

Former Clinton strategist Carter Eskew says the ex-president is almost always an asset for Obama.

Friday is jobs day, when the federal government releases its monthly unemployment report. It's also just about five months before the presidential election.

When the two presidential contenders talk about unemployment, they're trying to balance their rhetoric between optimism, pessimism and reality.

From now until November, President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will emphasize their differences. But the two men's lives actually coincide in a striking number of ways. In this installment of NPR's "Parallel Lives" series, a look at one of those similarities: They both signed health care overhaul laws based on an individual mandate.

Tuesday, President Obama scored a foreign policy success when he traveled to Afghanistan. Now he's being buffeted by the case of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. Meanwhile, Romney had been getting some attention for his critique that the president was politicizing the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. That is, until Obama went to Afghanistan, signed an international agreement and addressed the troops and the nation.

At this point in the presidential race, Romney faces the difficult task of outdoing an incumbent president.

Finding A News Hook

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Republicans have repeatedly criticized President Obama for what they contend is a weak foreign policy. Their criticism now extends to how the president talks about his signature foreign policy success.

Here's NPR national political correspondent, Mara Liasson.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: President Obama's visit to Afghanistan and his address to the nation were reminders of the responsibilities of the commander-in-chief and the attention he can muster at a moment's notice.

Ahead of Pennsylvania's primary Tuesday, the likely Republican presidential nominee has been campaigning in the state with a man at the center of running-mate speculation — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. But Mitt Romney hasn't said much about whom he might name as his vice presidential choice.

Romney has said he appointed a longtime aide to handle the process and that he hasn't yet discussed making a list of potential candidates. But just about everyone else in politics is discussing it. And the men at the top of that list are asked about it a lot.

For the past two weeks, the campaigns of both President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney have accused each other of waging a war on women. But what's really going on is a war for women's votes.

The president, like Democrats before him, has an advantage with female voters — who make up 53 percent of the American electorate. Romney is trying to close the gender gap by using his most powerful and popular surrogate: his wife.

One of the sharpest dividing lines emerging between President Obama and GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is the budget introduced in Congress by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., with its sharp cuts in domestic spending and lower tax rates.

Both sides see it as a winning issue for the fall campaign. The Obama campaign likes to call it the "Romney-Ryan budget" — and Romney hasn't objected.

On the campaign trail in Wisconsin, Ryan was a constant presence with Romney before that state's April 3 Republican primary, which Romney won.

There's a question whether Rick Santorum will prolong his presidential campaign to finish in Pennsylvania later this month. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is moving in for the kill, buying $1.8 million of airtime in the state. NPR's Mara Liasson reports on the state of the GOP nominating campaign.

As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear arguments about President Obama's health care law, supporters and opponents are planning a flurry of rallies, press conferences and phone banks to remind people why the law is so great — or so terrible. Republicans have been energized by their desire to see the law repealed, but the issue could be more complicated for the GOP than it seems.

Most of the president's speeches these days focus on jobs or gas prices. But the health care law is his signature achievement, and it always gets a mention at political events.

"Change is health care reform that we passed after a century of trying," President Obama said to cheers and applause from the audience at a recent fundraiser in New York.

It was a big night for Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. He won the primaries in Mississippi and Alabama. Mitt Romney was running third in both states.

Mitt Romney won six of the 10 Super Tuesday contests. Rick Santorum won three while Newt Gingrich won one. Ron Paul was the only candidate who did not win at least one contest.

In the Michigan Republican primary Tuesday, Mitt Romney had a near-death experience, but he squeaked out a narrow victory over Rick Santorum. That, says veteran Republican strategist Ed Rogers, has calmed some of the anxiety in Republican circles about Romney's strength as a general election candidate.

"Mitt Romney did what he needed to do to give more certainty and more clarity to the race. He dodged a bullet; it was an ugly win," Rogers says. "It's not over. Santorum is still very competitive."

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