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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National Security
3:37 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 6:12 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
2:59 am
Wed July 30, 2014

'Hard Choices' Tour Put Spotlight On Clinton's Strengths, Weaknesses

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a crowd during a book signing for her new book, Hard Choices. Clinton's book tour has brought her before admiring audiences, but also highlighted her difficulty talking about her wealth and her presidential vision.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sat August 2, 2014 1:26 pm

Hillary Clinton's book tour is over. Although it wasn't a campaign rollout, it did offer a peek at the strengths and weaknesses of a possible Clinton candidacy.

One thing was clear: The former first lady, senator, presidential candidate and secretary of state may be readier to be president than to run for president.

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Politics
2:47 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 5:40 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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Law
2:14 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Obamacare's Split Decisions Spell Law's Possible Return To Supreme Court

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 6:17 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Let's talk now about policy ramifications and political reactions to today's court ruling. For that, we're joined by NPR national correspondent Mara Liasson. Hey there, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi Audie.

CORNISH: So we have, in effect, a split decision. Two appeals courts ruling in different ways. What's the political spin so far?

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News
2:18 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Obama Signs Order To Protect Against Anti-LGBT Bias

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 9:10 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Obama signed an executive order today giving new employment protections to gay and transgender people. And this is for people who work for the government. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports that the move comes after years of pressure from LGBT activists.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: At the White House today, President Obama signed the order saying we're on the right side of history. He said it was time to address this injustice for every American.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Politics
2:53 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Amid Roiled Landscape Of Border Politics, Obama's Plans May Change

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 6:40 pm

The Obama administration's request for more funds on immigration could get a congressional vote soon. Meanwhile, the crisis at the border is complicating Obama's plan to take unilateral action to ease deportations. The politics of immigration are shifting quickly.

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Politics
4:52 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Contraceptive Ruling Becomes Campaign Trail Flashpoint

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 9:30 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Democrats in the Senate have unveiled legislation to override the recent Supreme Court decision on contraceptives.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In that decision, the court sided with the owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores, ruling that many businesses do not have to pay for health insurance to cover contraceptives if they object on religious grounds.

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Politics
2:13 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Obama Requests Nearly $4 Billion In Funds To Speed Deportations

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 4:13 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Politics
2:25 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

On The Waterfront, Obama Contends Bridge Repair Coffers Beg Refilling

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 5:37 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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It's All Politics
3:14 am
Thu June 19, 2014

NPR Poll: In Senate Battleground States, Obama Ratings Lag

NPR

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 11:30 am

In the key battleground states that will decide control of the Senate this November, President Obama's approval numbers are lower than they are nationally — but not much lower.

That's the key finding in a new poll, conducted by Democrat Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps and Republican Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic, that sampled likely voters for NPR.

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Analysis
4:26 am
Tue June 17, 2014

White House Dogged By Group Responsible For Iraq Crisis

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 5:26 am

The crisis in Iraq has become a political problem for President Obama. Analysts say the White House needs to stop Iraq and Syria from becoming safe havens for terrorists.

Politics
3:02 am
Fri June 13, 2014

The Challenges Behind Accurate Opinion Polls

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 7:27 am

This week's stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor came after his internal polls showed him winning — instead he lost by double digits.

Politics
3:25 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Shocking Upset: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Loses Primary

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 7:47 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. This morning, Washington is trying to make sense of one of the most stunning upsets in congressional history. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, a man many expected to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, was defeated in his Republican primary by Tea Party activist David Brat. Cantor conceded this last night.

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Politics
6:31 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Tea Party Challenger Upsets Eric Cantor In GOP Primary

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:25 pm

In a surprise result, voters in Virginia's 7th Congressional District have dealt a defeat to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, nominating Tea Party challenger David Brat instead in the GOP primary.

Education
2:06 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

With New Order, Obama Aims To Combat Student Debt Pressures

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 4:42 pm

President Obama is signing an executive order Monday, which will expand a loan forgiveness program for college debt. NPR's Mara Liasson looks at the program and the political salience of the issue.

Politics
3:11 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Sen. Cochran In Danger Of Losing Primary To Tea Party Candidate

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 11:01 am

The most closely watched of Tuesday's primaries was the race in Mississippi, where incumbent Republican Senator Thad Cochran was fending off a challenge from Tea Party-backed Chris McDaniel.

Politics
3:31 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Environmentalists Hail Reduced Emission Rules, Others Criticize

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 5:57 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. President Obama's administration hopes his latest climate initiative will influence the United States long after he is gone.

GREENE: The president leaves office at the beginning of 2017, but the goal of the latest regulations is to sharply reduce emissions of gases linked to climate change by the year 2030. States would be given flexibility on how to meet the goals.

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Politics
3:20 am
Thu May 29, 2014

On VA Scandal, No Partisan Divide, Just Universal Outrage

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said he's "mad as hell" about reported problems with the VA health care system, and politicians on both sides of the aisle also expressed outrage. But the origins of the scandal are bipartisan, with deep roots, and not everyone agrees on what to do about it.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 10:54 am

A preliminary report from the Veterans Affairs inspector general finding systemic issues in the delivery of health care to veterans has intensified political pressure on the White House to fix the problems.

But the allegations that VA bureaucrats falsified data to cover up long delays is a scandal that transcends the usual partisan food fight, says Duke University's Peter Feaver, a former Bush White House official.

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Politics
2:21 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Obama's Relationship With Hispanic Voters Hinges On GOP

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 4:46 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. We've heard this cited many times. In 2012, Republicans lost the Hispanic vote by more than 2 to 1. Well, it turns out President Obama and the Democrats have problems of their own when it comes to Latino votes. NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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Around the Nation
4:16 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Tea Party Challenger Wins Nebraska's GOP Senate Primary

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 5:27 am

In Tuesday's Senate primary in Nebraska, Ben Sasse, a university president and Tea Party favorite, beat former state treasurer Shane Osborn.

Politics
2:05 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

In GOP Primaries, Establishment Has Kept The Tea Party Quiet

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 5:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

People in Nebraska and West Virginia are going to the polls today. In Nebraska, the Republican Senate primary has a familiar dynamic: Tea Party candidates running against Republicans backed by the party establishment.

NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson has been following this year's installment of the battle between the two wings of the GOP.

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It's All Politics
4:52 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Coming Soon To Your TV: Campaign Ads Targeted At You

Addressable TV advertising technologies, which allow advertisers to selectively target audiences and serve different ads within them, are poised to play a bigger role in political campaigns.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 12:53 pm

NPR's Mara Liasson interviewed top Democratic ad man Jim Margolis recently as part of her research for a story about political advertising aimed at women.

Much of the interview didn't make the final radio piece, but the picture he painted of the not-too-distant political future was fascinating — and a little unsettling.

Here are some excerpts from that interview:

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She Votes
11:31 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Easy On The Ears: GOP Ads Adapt To Reach Women Voters

Dr. Monica Wehby, pediatric neurosurgeon, is among the Republican candidates turning up the emotions in campaign ads.
Dave Killen The Oregonian/Landov

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 8:02 am

It's only April, but it looks and sounds like October. More than $80 million has been spent on political advertising in only about a dozen Senate battleground states.

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Politics
4:17 am
Wed May 7, 2014

With Midterm Elections 6 Months Away, Primaries Begin

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 6:47 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Congressional elections do not come for months, but in many districts the real action is now. Its primary season and yesterday voters went to the polls around the country. In North Carolina's Republican Senate primary, Thom Tillis, the State House speaker, won a big enough margin to avoid a runoff.

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Politics
1:28 am
Tue April 22, 2014

'Ready For Hillary': Clinton's Campaign-In-Waiting

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers a keynote address in San Francisco.
Ben Margot AP

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 1:09 pm

In a high-rise office in Rosslyn, Va., Adam Parkhomenko is selling campaign paraphernalia for a campaign that may or may not happen.

"Bumper stickers, magnets, and then we have everything from T-shirts, we have baby onesies that we're almost out of now," says Parkhomenko.

Parkhomenko runs a group called Ready for Hillary. It's more than a Clinton fan club: It's a superPAC, a list-building superPAC.

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Politics
1:40 am
Thu April 3, 2014

NPR Poll: Obamacare More Popular Than President

President Obama, with Vice President Biden, speaks about the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday in the Rose Garden.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 11:04 am

A new bipartisan NPR poll shows approval numbers rising for Obamacare — which is now slightly more popular than its namesake.

Our survey of likely voters, conducted for Morning Edition by Democrat Stan Greenberg of Democracy Corps and Republican Whit Ayres of Resurgent Republic, shows the president's health care law is still unpopular, but it might not be as heavy a millstone for Democrats as expected.

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Politics
1:22 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Democrats Count On The Fine Art Of Field Operations

Newly elected GOP Congressman David Jolly of Florida, right, poses for a ceremonial swearing-in with Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, on March 13. Jolly edged out Democrat Alex Sink in a special election that Republicans cast as a referendum on President Obama and his unpopular health care law.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 10:25 am

Democrats have had great success in recent presidential elections registering, targeting and turning out their core voters. Now they're hoping to use that sophisticated field operation to to stave off defeat in this year's midterm elections.

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News
2:21 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Obama Rolls Out White House Welcome Mat For Ukrainian Prime Minister

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 6:14 pm

Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is visiting the White House Wednesday. The meeting comes days before a vote in Crimea over whether to secede from Ukraine.

Health Care
2:32 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

March Marks A Crucible For Obamacare As Deadline Nears

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 4:51 pm

Facing a deadline, the Obama administration is desperate to boost enrollment in health care exchanges. Still millions from their goal, they're stepping up outreach and forgetting politics — for now.

Politics
2:16 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

As CPAC Opens, GOP Stars Take Turns At The Podium

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 5:50 pm

The Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists, routinely attracts big names in the Republican party — and this year's no different. It starts Thursday.

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