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
8:32 am
Thu May 14, 2015

4 Questions For Republicans On Foreign Policy

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks Wednesday before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, where he laid out his "Rubio Doctrine."
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 4:51 pm

This post was updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

Foreign policy is becoming a big issue in the 2016 election. For the first time in years, some polls show as many voters concerned about foreign affairs as domestic issues.

And for Republican voters it's the No. 1 issue.

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Politics
5:02 am
Tue May 5, 2015

'My Brother's Keeper' To Expand Opportunities For Young Men Of Color

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:25 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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It's All Politics
5:25 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Why Hillary Clinton Is Just Fine With Bernie Sanders' Candidacy

Bernie Sanders announced his presidential bid Thursday. Though he'll challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, his candidacy could actually help hers.
Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 8:19 pm

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders got into the presidential race Thursday, becoming Hillary Clinton's first official challenger for the Democratic nomination. His website has a disclaimer: "Paid for by Bernie not the billionaires."

Although he caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, he's not a registered Democrat — he's actually the longest-serving independent in congressional history. (There's no rule, by the way, barring candidates who are not registered Democrats from running in the Democratic primary.)

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It's All Politics
6:28 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

3 Reasons Republicans Might Cheer A Pro-Gay-Marriage Ruling

Sen. Marco Rubio spoke at the an Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting last weekend.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 8:14 pm

The idea that the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage is a good thing for Republicans sounds counterintuitive — after all, the GOP is the party of traditional marriage.

But here's why it might actually be a good thing for the party:

1. Public opinion is changing — at lightning speed.

There's never been a social issue in America on which public attitudes reached a tipping point so quickly.

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It's All Politics
4:40 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Rubio's Path To The Nomination, And 3 Obstacles In His Way

Marco Rubio celebrates onstage with his family in 2010 after winning his U.S. Senate seat in Florida when he was just 39 years old. Now, he's expected to embark on a run for president.
Alan Diaz AP

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 7:09 am

Marco Rubio, the charismatic, Hispanic, young (and even younger-looking) freshman senator from Florida is launching his campaign for the White House Monday in Miami.

Rubio, 43, will be entering a growing field of candidates. Right now, he's considered a second-tier candidate, polling behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the man Rubio has called a mentor.

That could change once he gets in. Rubio's advisers believe he has a path to the nomination, with assets few other candidates can match.

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It's All Politics
7:03 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Can Libertarian Rand Paul Win A Republican Primary?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. walks from the stage after speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 11:16 am

Rand Paul is not like other potential presidential candidates.

The Kentucky senator, who announced his candidacy for the White House on Tuesday morning, doesn't fit neatly into the molds of either party.

Socially liberal on issues of crime and punishment — especially when it comes to drug sentencing — against a federal ban on same-sex marriage, and no foreign policy hawk, he's not your prototypical Republican.

As a fiscal conservative and an opponent of abortion rights, though, he's certainly no Democrat either.

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It's All Politics
6:03 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Fights Over 'Religious Freedom' And Gay Rights Are Costing Republicans

Opponents of an Arkansas religious objection measure chant outside the Arkansas state Capitol on Wednesday.
Danny Johnston AP

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 11:54 am

Following a firestorm of criticism, Republican governors in Indiana and Arkansas signed revised versions of their states' Religious Freedom Restoration bills Thursday night. In Indiana the language was adjusted, and in Arkansas it was significantly scaled back to more closely align with the federal law.

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Politics
4:39 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Republicans Face Backlash Over Indiana, Arkansas 'Religious Freedom' Laws

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 8:10 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Middle East
5:04 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Netanyahu Reveals Aversion To 2-State Solution, White House Says

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 10:10 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It's All Politics
7:18 pm
Wed March 18, 2015

Bad Blood Gets Worse Between Barack, Bibi And Israel

President Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in 2013. The two have never had a warm and fuzzy relationship.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:22 pm

The U.S.-Israeli relationship was one of the issues in the Israeli elections — in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's poisonous personal relationship with President Obama.

Now, with Netanyahu's return to power, that relationship doesn't look like it will be improving anytime soon.

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Politics
5:02 am
Wed March 11, 2015

In Retrospect, Clinton Says She Should Have Used Separate Emails

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 4:46 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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It's All Politics
6:04 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

3 Reasons Democrats Are Freaking Out About Hillary Clinton

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checking her phone in 2010. For many Democrats, the answer to the question: "If not Hillary, who?" is — disaster.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 8:16 pm

The back-to-back Clinton controversies are making Democrats queasy.

At a time when more than a dozen Republican presidential hopefuls are jostling each other in New Hampshire and Iowa, this should be a great moment for the virtually unopposed Hillary Clinton. She could be staying above the fray, using the time to staff up and prepare her policy agenda. But that's not what's happening.

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Politics
5:52 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Politics Roundup: From Iowa To Hillary Clinton's Email Account

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 8:20 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It's All Politics
5:20 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

4 Reasons Both Parties Should Be Sweating Bullets Over King V. Burwell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (from left), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner have reasons to watch the Supreme Court case closely — and to worry about its outcome.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 1:54 pm

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in another case that threatens the survival of Obamacare. This one doesn't challenge the constitutionality of the law itself, it merely challenges the legality of one of the most important parts of the system — subsidies so that everyone can afford health care. If the court strikes down the subsidies for people who live in states that chose not to set up their own exchanges, and who get their health coverage from the federal marketplace — healthcare.gov — it would begin to unravel the entire Obamacare project.

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Politics
5:09 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Political Necessity Forces GOP Into Middle-Class Income Debate

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 8:12 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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It's All Politics
10:05 am
Thu February 5, 2015

5 Things The Vaccine Debacle Reveals About The 2016 Presidential Field

Sen. Rand Paul tweeted this photo, writing "Ironic: Today I am getting my booster vaccine. Wonder how the liberal media will misreport this?"
Twitter

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 7:19 pm

As the measles outbreak continues to spread, political leaders with an eye on the White House in 2016 spent much of the week jumping into, and then trying to bail themselves out of, the vaccine debate.

Some brushed the issue off as an unnecessary media circus, but it's worth taking a look at its deeper political meaning. Here are five things the vaccine politics kerfuffle of 2015 tells us about the emerging field of presidential candidates for 2016.

1. Vaccination politics are a problem for Republicans — not Democrats.

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It's All Politics
7:06 am
Tue January 20, 2015

State Of The Union: 5 Things To Watch

President Obama listens as British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks Friday during their joint news conference at the White House.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 7:37 pm

Even in the era of declining television audiences, President Obama's State of the Union address is still the biggest audience he'll have all year. Historically, seventh-year State of the Union speeches have a short shelf life. Every one of the five lame-duck presidents (that is, presidents constitutionally barred from running again — Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama) has had opposition congresses, making the prospects for passing major parts of the president's agenda slim to none.

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Politics
5:05 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Treasury Nomination Sparks Fight Among Democrats

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 7:37 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

U.S.
1:02 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Hagel Steps Down After Discord On Syria, Iraq

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down. President Obama made the announcement in an East Room appearance minutes ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

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The Two-Way
12:19 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Obama To Unveil Immigration Plan On Thursday

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 3:14 pm

Updated at 1:28 p.m. ET.

President Obama says he will announce the executive actions he's taking to "start fixing our broken immigration system" during a speech to the nation at 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

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Health Care
4:17 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Affordable Care Act Has Many Political And Legal Challenges Ahead

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 6:55 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Politics
4:33 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Disappointment With Both Parties A Major Factor In Midterm Elections

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 6:23 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
4:23 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Turf Shifts In Culture Wars As Support For Gay Marriage Rises

People hold signs, including some reading "America is ready for marriage," at a same-sex marriage victory celebration on Oct. 6 in Salt Lake City, Utah. America may be ready, but Republicans aren't: Rising popular support for same-sex marriage is posing a problem for the GOP.
George Frey Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 1:47 pm

When social norms change, sometimes they change so fast it's hard to keep up.

Only 10 years ago, ballot initiatives opposing gay marriage were helping Republicans win elections. But two weeks ago, when the Supreme Court effectively cleared the way for legal same-sex marriage, the response from Republican leaders was deafening silence.

They were so quiet, some wondered whether the culture wars had finally ended with a Republican defeat.

Gary Bauer, a longtime social conservative activist, thinks that's nonsense.

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New Boom
5:30 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Millennials Are Blue Now, But Party Allegiance Could Be Up For Grabs

Millennial focus group: Arturo Chang (from left), Shaza Loutfi, Alexa Graziolli, Stephen Crouch, Jessica Ramser. Not pictured: Ginger Gibson.
Rachel Lushinsky NPR

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 8:28 pm

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

President Obama is holding a town hall meeting Thursday in California with a group he wants to mobilize for the midterm elections: millennial entrepreneurs. Millennials — young people ages 18-34 — are a key part of the Democratic coalition.

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Politics
5:05 am
Fri October 3, 2014

NPR Poll: Senate Battleground Tilts Republican, But Still Anybody's Game

Political signs separate Sen. Mitch McConnell's and Alison Lundergan Grimes' camps at the annual Fancy Farm picnic in Kentucky in August.
Stephen Lance Dennee AP

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 3:17 pm

With fewer than five weeks until election day, the political landscape continues to be tilted against President Obama and his party. The battle for control of the Senate — the biggest prize this year — remains close and could tip either way.

Those are the findings of NPR's latest bipartisan poll of likely voters, conducted by Republican Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic and Democrat Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps.

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Politics
5:02 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Shifting Stance, Some GOP Candidates Back State Minimum Wage Hikes

Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says under certain conditions, he would support a higher minimum wage in his state.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 6:15 pm

Here's another entry in the strange bedfellows political show, 2014 edition: As Election Day gets closer, some Republicans in battleground races seem to be moving to the center on a number of issues. Their latest sea change is the minimum wage.

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Health
3:30 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Changing Tack, GOP Candidates Support Over-The-Counter Birth Control

iStockPhoto

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 2:32 pm

A string of Republican candidates for Senate are supporting an issue usually associated with Democrats: easier access to contraception.

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NPR Story
5:13 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

In An Era Of Gridlock, Does Controlling The Senate Really Matter?

Senate Minority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell has reportedly been talking privately about what he'd do as majority leader.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 7:41 pm

Republicans are increasingly confident that when this year's midterm elections are over, they will control both houses of Congress. But in this period of polarization and gridlock, what difference would it make?

This midterm election doesn't seem to be about anything in particular other than whether you like President Obama or not. There's no overarching issue, no clashing national agendas. Instead, it's just a series of very expensive, brutally negative races for Congress.

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National Security
5:04 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Obama Considers Widening Strikes Against Islamic State Militants

During a speech at the American Legion's National Convention on Tuesday, President Obama again called the extremist group the Islamic State a "cancer."
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 8:12 pm

President Obama is considering widening military strikes against the extremist group that beheaded American journalist James Foley. The U.S. has been bombing the Islamic State's positions in Iraq, and may decide to extend those strikes to Syria.

Three years after the killing of Osama bin Laden, and a year after President Obama tried to turn the page on the open-ended war on terror, the U.S. is facing a threat from a group even more extreme than al-Qaida.

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Politics
4:55 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

As Political Disenchantment Soars, Lines At The Polls Grow Shorter

An official assists a voter at a polling station inside Fort Garrison Elementary School in Pikesville, Md., on primary day, June 24. As in many states this primary election season, turnout was low in Maryland.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 7:40 pm

Several new surveys show voter interest is low, anti-incumbent sentiment is high, and voters from both parties are questioning whether their elected leaders should return to Congress next year.

In short, the electorate is disengaged and disgusted with politics.

Voter turnout in the 2010 primaries was only about 18 percent, and now it's even lower. Less than 15 percent of eligible citizens cast ballots in the 25 states that have held statewide primaries this year, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.

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