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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Politics
3:57 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Boehner Picks Cathy McMorris Rodgers For GOP Rebuttal

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Wash., walks to a Sept. 2013 classified, members-only briefing on Syria in Washington.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 8:16 am

Tuesday night is the State of the Union Address — the biggest opportunity President Obama gets all year to speak to the American people about his priorities. There's also another speech that night — the GOP response. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner announced Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington State would deliver the official rebuttal.

Politics
2:45 am
Thu January 9, 2014

50 Years Later, How The Politics Of Poverty Evolved

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:21 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 week, and in the coming year, we're marking the anniversary of a famous declaration. It's been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson called for an unconditional war on poverty in his first State of the Union Address after the assassination of President Kennedy.

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Politics
5:23 am
Sat December 14, 2013

White House Hires A Crisis Manager, Easing Democratic Worries

John Podesta was Bill Clinton's White House chief of staff from 1998 to 2001, helping the president survive impeachment.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

It's not big enough to be called a shakeup, but the new hire announced this week at the White House is important: John Podesta will come on board in January as a counselor to the president.

Podesta is a Democratic wise man, the founder of the Center for American Progress, a policy and personnel incubator for Democratic administrations, and he just started a new think tank on income inequality — the problem President Obama says will animate his second term.

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Politics
6:05 am
Sat December 7, 2013

Social Security Fight Exposes Democratic Divide On Populism

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is leading a push to increase Social Security benefits. But her whole party is not in agreement on the issue.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 11:51 am

American politics is having a populist moment, with voters angry and frustrated with all big institutions in American life.

The backlash against big government found its expression on the right with the Tea Party. The tensions between that movement and the Republican establishment have been on full display.

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It's All Politics
2:00 am
Mon November 18, 2013

States Aim To Cure Hyperpartisanship With Primary Changes

To fight hyperpartisanship and redistricting aimed at keeping politicians safe in their district, some states are experimenting with new primary voting systems.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:42 pm

Several states are trying to do something about so-called hyperpartisanship by changing the way congressional districts are drawn and the way elections are held.

Their goal: force members of Congress to pay more attention to general election voters than to their base voters on the right or left.

John Fortier, the director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which is working on ways to make politics less dysfunctional, says U.S. political parties have become more polarized.

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It's All Politics
8:45 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Top Pollster Sees Evidence Of Political 'Shock Wave'

Demonstrators march toward the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to demand that Congress investigate the National Security Agency's mass surveillance programs.
Fang Zhe Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 10:41 am

Here's an email that caught my eye Thursday. It's from Republican Bill McInturff, one of the best pollsters around and not someone known to hyperbolize. He was discussing the results of this month's NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, which he conducts with Democrat Peter Hart.

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Politics
6:45 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Lawmakers To Grill Sebelius On Affordable Care Act

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 3:24 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. More hearings come today on the messy rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will face questions from the House, Energy and Commerce Committee. Now, yesterday, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid testified before a different committee. Marilyn Tavenner offered consumers an apology for the problems at the health care.gov website.

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NPR Story
6:33 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

What's Behind The Partisan Thaw In Washington?

On Thursday, President Obama met with Senate Democrats. Then he met with House Republicans. And White House staff members continued talks with their counterparts from the House GOP leadership. All that talking just a day after there was radio silence between the two parties. One strong possibility for the change in attitudes is a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that shows that the majority of Americans blame Republicans for the ongoing government shutdown and just 20 percent of people approve of the Republican party.

It's All Politics
2:35 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

How Political Miscalculations Led To The Shutdown Standoff

The Capitol is seen under an overcast sky at dawn on Monday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 6:33 pm

The standoff over the debt ceiling and the government shutdown showed signs of softening Thursday.

House Speaker John Boehner said he would bring a temporary hike in the debt ceiling to the House floor in exchange for negotiations on government spending and taxes. Democrats say if the House votes to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government, they will negotiate.

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Politics
3:17 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Day 3 Of Shutdown: Both Sides Remain Dug In

Originally published on Thu October 3, 2013 10:53 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The nation has grown accustomed to political crisis manufactured in Washington.

INSKEEP: Americans and their leaders are less accustomed to the situation now. The drama leading up to the deadline for a government shutdown was familiar.

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Politics
5:56 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Boehner, Obama Meet But Make No Progress On Deal To End Shutdown

Day two of the government shutdown is nearing its finish, with no end in sight. And that's in spite of talks at the White House late today. President Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner for over an hour Wednesday evening. The meeting failed to produce a deal that would end the federal government shutdown.

Politics
2:31 am
Tue October 1, 2013

After Years Of Political Talk, The Obamacare Fight Gets Real

A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange site on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 9:43 am

In the three years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, it has survived more than 50 votes in Congress to defund or repeal it, a Supreme Court challenge, a presidential election and, as of Tuesday morning, a government shutdown. Much of the spending for the law is mandatory and won't be cut off.

But now, it must survive its own implementation.

Tuesday is the day that Obamacare goes operational. Americans can begin signing up for health insurance on online marketplaces known as exchanges.

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Politics
3:30 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Every Move She Makes, Pundits Are Watching Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City on Wednesday.
Ramin Talaie Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 9:09 pm

When she left the Obama administration, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she just wanted to sleep late and walk her dog. But that hasn't happened.

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It's All Politics
3:29 am
Sat September 21, 2013

Have Obama's Troubles Weakened Him For Fall's Fiscal Fights?

President Obama arrives on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 9:34 am

President Obama has had a tough year. He failed to pass gun legislation. Plans for an immigration overhaul have stalled in the House. He barely escaped what would have been a humiliating rejection by Congress on his plan to strike Syria.

Just this week, his own Democrats forced Larry Summers, the president's first choice to head the Federal Reserve, to withdraw.

Former Clinton White House aide Bill Galston says all these issues have weakened the unity of the president's coalition.

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World
4:24 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

U.K. Vote Against Syria Strike A Major Setback For Obama

Originally published on Thu November 7, 2013 9:59 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

So where does this leave the Obama administration? For more on that, I'm joined by NPR's Mara Liasson. And Mara, what's the White House reaction been to this vote in the British Parliament tonight?

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NPR Story
3:23 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Republicans Pin Hopes On Senate Turnover In 2014

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 5:37 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In Washington, D.C. the next election always seems just around the corner, even in the middle of summer when it seems a long way away to everyone else. Republicans are in the Senate minority today, but about now they're feeling confident about their prospects to pick up seats and maybe even regain the majority in 2014. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports.

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It's All Politics
3:29 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Marco Rubio: Poster Boy For The GOP Identity Crisis

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., walks toward the stage as he is introduced at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in June.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 4:13 pm

The Republican Party seems like two parties these days. In the Senate, Republicans joined a two-thirds majority to pass an immigration bill. But in the House, Republicans are balking.

Strategist Alex Lundry says it's hard to figure out the way forward when your party's base of power is the House of Representatives.

"One problem we have in the wilderness is that there are a thousand chiefs," he says. "And it is hard to get a party moving when you don't have somebody at the top who is a core leader who can be directive."

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It's All Politics
2:32 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Will Texas Become A Presidential Battleground?

Texas was decidedly red on the electoral map in NBC News' "Election Plaza" in New York's Rockefeller Center in 2008. Do Democrats really have a chance to turn it blue in the future?
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 4:11 pm

All this week, NPR is taking a look at the demographic changes that could reshape the political landscape in Texas over the next decade — and what that could mean for the rest of the country.

With the two parties in Washington gridlocked on immigration, the budget and other issues, it's easy to forget that when it comes to winning presidential elections, one party has a distinct advantage.

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National Security
6:01 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Surveillance Revelations Spark Lackluster Public Discord

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 3:53 am

When a former IT contractor at the National Security Agency gave The Guardian U.S. government surveillance information, he told the paper that his only motivation was to spark a public debate about government surveillance.

"This is something that's not our place to decide," Edward Snowden said. "The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong."

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Politics
3:19 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Obama To Push Jobs, Education At N.C. Middle School

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 4:49 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

President Obama travels to Mooresville, North Carolina today. He'll highlight the town's middle school and its focus on technology and digital learning. It's part of what the White House is calling the president's Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. Jobs and education are big issues for younger voters, one of the most sought after demographics for both parties.

NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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It's All Politics
3:56 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

With Texas Trip, Obama Tries To Steer Focus Back To Economy

President Obama answers questions during a news conference on April 30.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 4:27 pm

President Obama turns his attention back to his economic agenda Thursday when he travels to Austin, Texas, where he will visit a technology high school and a company that makes the machines that make silicon chips.

The White House says the trip is part of Obama's Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour. It also appears to be an effort by the president to get back to the issues Americans care most about.

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Politics
2:41 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Political Battle Over Health Law Starts Next Chapter

Originally published on Fri May 3, 2013 10:14 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

It's one of the basic lessons in school - how a bill becomes a law - sounds so finite. Of course the part they don't always teach is how the political debate over a law can just keep going. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is now the law of the land. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.

But as NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports, the fight of the law will likely just intensify ahead of the next elections.

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It's All Politics
3:37 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Immigration Proves A 'Rubik's Cube' For Many Republicans

Protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Capitol on April 10.
Allison Shelley Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 6:37 pm

While an immigration overhaul has drawn support from church groups, business, labor and even former opponents, there's still deep opposition — mostly centered in the Republican Party.

The last time a president tried to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul was in 2007, and George W. Bush's fellow Republicans in Congress killed his bill. Republican strategist Kevin Madden says a lot has changed since then — including the way the Republican Party is dealing with its own internal divisions.

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Politics
2:56 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Proposition 8 Case Has High Political Stakes For Both Parties

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 3:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We'll learn what the court decides to do about DOMA and California's Proposition 8 sometime this summer. Its options vary widely. But no matter what the result, there will be political implications.

NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us to walk through some of them.

And, Mara, first, let's talk briefly about this really sea change in public opinion now in favor of same-sex marriage. Could the court reverse that tide in any way?

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Politics
2:43 am
Tue March 19, 2013

RNC Election Report Calls For Minority Outreach, Primary Changes

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 8:42 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the Republican Party has issued a blistering assessment of why it lost the 2012 election. The Republican National Committee Growth and Opportunity Project told the party that if it wants to win national elections in the future, it needs to change the way it communicates with voters and runs its campaigns.

NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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It's All Politics
1:56 am
Thu March 14, 2013

It's Still Early, But GOP Hopefuls Test The Waters For 2016

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, considered a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, was not invited to speak at CPAC.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 7:34 am

During the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that begins Thursday, a slew of men who appear to want to try their hand at leading the GOP back to the White House in 2016 will be speaking, though not every potential presidential candidate was invited.

Yes, it's four years away, but that hasn't stopped Republican hopefuls from testing the waters. There are already polls — for whatever they're worth — of potential GOP candidates.

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It's All Politics
1:06 am
Wed March 13, 2013

Republicans Face Off Over Strategy For Picking Candidates

Karl Rove and the big donors behind his Crossroads superPAC have formed a new group, the Conservative Victory Project, to vet and recruit Republican Senate candidates.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 3:36 pm

Republicans have a steep hill to climb if they want to take control of the Senate next year. The GOP would need to pick up six seats in 2014.

There are plenty of open seats and vulnerable Democrats up for re-election, but Republicans are debating the best way to win.

Last year's Senate results were disappointing for the GOP: The party ended up losing a number of seats it thought were winnable — and now it's trying to figure out what to do differently next year.

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NPR Story
2:43 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Obama's Second Term Cabinet Nears Completion With New Nominations

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 3:34 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

Three new faces joined President Obama today at the White House.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, I'm announcing my plan to nominate three outstanding individuals to help us tackle some of our most important challenges.

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It's All Politics
3:03 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

One Strategy For A GOP Overhaul? Follow The Democrats' Example

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, shown here in August at the Republican National Convention, has named a five-member task force to conduct a review of what went wrong for his party in the November elections.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 6:01 pm

These are difficult times for the Republican Party. In the latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, Democrats led Republicans — in some cases by double digits — on issues like Medicare, taxes and the economy.

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Politics
4:12 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Automatic Budget Cuts Near As Democrats, GOP Stand Firm

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 6:39 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

With Congress headed for a recess, prospects are dimming for a deal to keep the nation from falling off the next fiscal cliff - sequestration. That's the term for automatic spending cuts that go into effect March 1.

NPR's Mara Liasson explains how the White House and Congress got to this impasse and why it's so hard to get past it.

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