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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Here's what's happening in the presidential race. Republican Mitt Romney is attacking President Obama for cronyism. Romney contends that Obama campaign donors got alternative energy grants.

MONTAGNE: Romney is trying to return to the offensive after being slammed over his own record. President Obama and his campaign have been questioning Romney's business background.

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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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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

Saturday's South Carolina Republican primary may be the last good chance for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's challengers to stop his march to the nomination. Every election year since 1980, the winner of South Carolina's Republican primary has gone on to win the nomination.

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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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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.

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.

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.

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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