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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Presidential Race
12:01 am
Thu March 1, 2012

State Of GOP Race: No Momentum For Candidates

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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Election 2012
12:01 am
Thu February 16, 2012

How Does Mitt Romney Stop Rick Santorum's Rise?

Rick Santorum gestures toward Republican rival Mitt Romney during the South Carolina GOP presidential debate in Myrtle Beach on Jan. 16.
Charles Dharapak AFP/Getty Images

What's the best way for Mitt Romney to stop Rick Santorum?

For the answer, we went to someone who has done it before.

Democratic strategist Saul Shorr helped Bob Casey defeat then-Sen. Santorum, R-Pa., in a landslide in 2006. Santorum lost by 18 points.

But Shorr says that was a general election; in a Republican primary, Romney will have a much harder job.

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Mitt Romney
4:59 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Conservatives Worry Romney's Vision Is Cloudy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to supporters at a rally in Denver on Tuesday.
Marc Piscotty Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 8, 2012 8:20 pm

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's losses on Tuesday, while not very meaningful in the race to accumulate delegates, have raised questions once again about his ability to inspire passion from his party's base and about his viability in the general election.

Rival Rick Santorum's victories in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota dealt a setback, if not exactly a body blow, to Romney — whom Santorum routinely dismisses as a candidate with a big machine but no core.

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Presidential Race
12:01 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Romney Again A Front-Runner, But At What Cost?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at Brady Industries on Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller Getty Images

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's decisive win over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Florida returned him to the front-runner's spot in the Republican presidential race. Romney emerged from that battle with his strengths, but also his weaknesses, on full display.

Sometimes hard-fought nominating contests produce a more formidable general-election candidate. That's what happened to Barack Obama in 2008. But Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist, thinks it's too soon to tell if this Republican primary battle will have the same effect.

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Election 2012
4:00 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Romney, Gingrich Clash During GOP Debate In Tampa

Originally published on Tue January 24, 2012 10:00 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

GREENE: The latest Republican debate - last night in Florida - was more subdued than when the candidates last took the stage, in South Carolina. But still, it contained plenty of sharp jabs. After it was over, another dramatic turn in the race, with new revelations about Mitt Romney's taxes. We'll explore those numbers in depth, in a few minutes.

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Election 2012
4:00 am
Fri January 20, 2012

At Debate, Gingrich Denies He Sought Open Marriage

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 7:54 am

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. The four Republicans still running for president met last night for their last debate before the South Carolina primary. They sparred over health care, abortion and tax returns. The race in South Carolina is now a dead heat, with Mitt Romney's earlier lead wiped out by a late surge by Newt Gingrich.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Thu January 19, 2012

S.C. Primary Voters Struggle To Decide On Ballot Choice

Originally published on Thu January 19, 2012 10:36 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Election 2012
4:00 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Romney Is 2 For 2 In GOP Nominating Contests

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 5:50 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Mitt Romney will head into the rest of the Republican presidential contest with powerful momentum. After barely winning Iowa, he won New Hampshire convincingly last night.

GREENE: Romney took 39 percent of the vote. That put him far ahead of Ron Paul. Jon Huntsman finished third in the state, where he had campaigned almost exclusively.

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Election 2012
6:20 am
Wed January 4, 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.

It's All Politics
12:01 am
Thu December 15, 2011

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

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

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

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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Presidential Race
5:02 am
Thu December 8, 2011

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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U.S.
6:49 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

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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Election 2012
12:01 am
Thu November 17, 2011

Political Climate Ripe For A Third-Party Prospect

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

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

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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Election 2012
4:47 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Can Obama Make History Again?

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

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

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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Politics
5:40 am
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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Election 2012
6:03 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

The GOP Campaign Ad Wars, As Seen On YouTube

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

YouTube

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

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Election 2012
12:01 am
Thu October 20, 2011

A 'Spirited' Primary Could Be What The GOP Needs

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

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

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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Herman Cain
3:17 pm
Fri October 14, 2011

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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National Security
4:29 am
Fri October 7, 2011

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.

Rick Perry
4:04 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

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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Mitt Romney
12:01 am
Thu September 22, 2011

Former GOP Front-Runner Romney Seeks Opening

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

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

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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Barack Obama
4:37 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

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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