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.

When seven of the nine remaining Republican candidates meet Saturday for their final debate before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, several of them will be facing their last chance to stay in the race.

Here are three things to watch for at 8 p.m. ET when Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump appear on stage at the ABC News debate in Manchester, N.H.

Which Donald Trump will show up?

Finally, after more than 10 months of campaigning from more than a dozen presidential candidates, voters get to weigh in. Iowa Republicans and Democrats will caucus Monday night, and the results could at long last provide some clarity to the Republican and Democratic nominating contests — or not.

Here are five things we're watching:

This week, NPR and some member stations will be taking the temperature of the electorate in communities around the country. You can follow those stations, via Twitter, here.

The mood of the voters is one of the most important political factors in an election year. This year voters are anxious, frightened and angry.

Candidates in both parties are trying to show they get it.

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At a Manchester, N.H., watch party following Saturday's Democratic primary debate, Hillary Clinton stood side by side with the man she called her "not so secret weapon" — her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Voters are about to see much more of him, she said.

Editor's Note: Some readers might find some of the language below offensive.

This post was updated at 11:30 a.m. ET

Donald Trump has made his most outrageous statement yet in a string of beyond-the-pale utterances.

Sometimes being in the White House briefing has a "down the rabbit hole" quality to it.

Today I inadvertently started Comb-overgate with an innocent question.

When spokesman Josh Earnest comes in to the briefing room, he often brings prepared remarks on questions he has anticipated.

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At every turn, this year's presidential campaign has proved conventional wisdom wrong. The aftermath of the Paris attacks might be another example.

As soon as the attacks were over, a chorus of (establishment) Republican voices predicted that the new focus on national security and terrorism would change the dynamic of the Republican race. This was the tipping point, they declared, that would finally usher out the outsiders leading the polls — Donald Trump and Ben Carson — in favor of more serious, experienced candidates.

It's now within a year of Election Day 2016. The Republican race for the nomination is still completely unsettled, the Democratic race a little less. But hardly anything has worked out according to conventional wisdom.

With that caveat, here are five big things that (we think!) will help determine the outcome of next year's election.

1. Voter mood

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And we'll hear more about the debate and the presidential race from NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

Hi Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi Robert.

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Since 1960, the Democrats were the party that nominated new generation candidates. Three of them — Kennedy, Clinton and Obama — won the White House. Republicans nominated old guys, whether they lost — think Dole, McCain and Romney — or won, like Ronald Reagan. But this year, the geezers are on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton is 67, Bernie Sanders is 74 and, if he gets in, Joe Biden is 72. On the Republican side, for a change, it's a completely different story.

This post was updated at 4:00 p.m. ET Thursday

Reading the tea leaves about Vice President Biden's intentions has become a consuming parlor game in Washington.

Political junkies and journalists have been breathlessly speculating about whether Biden will get into the Democratic presidential race. Every phone call from a Biden aide is examined for hidden meaning.

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Republicans have been talking about reforming their party since President Obama's re-election in 2012. The recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage and Obamacare and the reversal of several Southern Republican governors on the Confederate battle flag gave the GOP a new chance. But change can be hard.

In presidential years, the party has a math problem, according to GOP strategist Steve Schmidt. He points out that while Democrats are attracting growing segments of the population, like Latinos and Asians, Republicans are relying on their traditional base of white voters.

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Chris Christie is joining a crowded race.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOBBY JINDAL: My name is Bobby Jindal.

CARLY FIORINA: I'm Carly Fiorina.

BEN CARSON: Now I've introduced my family you say, well, who are you?

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This story is part of NPR's series Journey Home. We're going to the places presidential candidates call home and finding out what those places tell us about how they see the world.

There are three Republican candidates who ran Spanish-language ads when they announced their presidential intentions — but only one was an Anglo.

Hillary Clinton's campaign for president is about to enter a new phase. At her first big rally this Saturday in New York City, she will make an unusually personal speech about how her upbringing forged her commitment to helping others.

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.

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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