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.

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.

It was a big night for Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. He won the primaries in Mississippi and Alabama. Mitt Romney was running third in both states.

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.

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GREENE: The latest Republican debate - last night in Florida - was more subdued than when the candidates last took the stage, in South Carolina. But still, it contained plenty of sharp jabs. After it was over, another dramatic turn in the race, with new revelations about Mitt Romney's taxes. We'll explore those numbers in depth, in a few minutes.

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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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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.

The American electorate is getting more diverse, more educated and younger. These demographic trends seem to suggest that voters could, in theory at least, be more Obama-friendly in 2012, especially in some key states. But it's not clear whether these shifts can outweigh the dragging economy and the president's dismal approval ratings.

Tuesday night's brawl of a debate in Las Vegas erased any doubt that the fight for the Republican presidential nomination would get bitter. Texas Gov. Rick Perry aggressively parried former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who looked rattled for the first time.

If that hand-to-hand combat continues, the Republican primary could just become a long, drawn-out fight. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing for the eventual nominee is unclear.

The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza has surprised a lot of people by rising to the top of the pack in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Herman Cain hasn't been traveling to many pancake breakfasts in Iowa or town halls in New Hampshire, but his polished speeches and debate performances have thrilled Republican voters.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry rocketed to the top of the field after he jumped in the race for the GOP nomination for president last month.

His early rise in the polls was based on what Republican voters thought they knew about him. But the debates gave Republicans a chance to see Perry in action — and the normally aggressive Texas governor has been forced into the uncomfortable position of defense.

The Republican presidential candidates debate again Thursday night — this time in Orlando, Fla.

Mitt Romney, who comes to Florida as the former front-runner, is eager to find a way to knock the newest candidate in the race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, off his perch as the new GOP leader.

There's been a sea change at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It's almost as if the cerebral, detached president went into a phone booth and came out a fighting Democrat.

In the Rose Garden on Monday, as President Obama laid out his vision for how the congressional supercommittee could find trillions in savings, he was no longer above the fray. He was right in the fray. And he made it clear he has given up on his so far fruitless search for common ground with the Republicans.

This week brought another slew of bad political news for President Obama. The Democrats lost two special elections: one in a Republican-leaning district in Nevada, and one in a Democratic stronghold in New York.

There are also new polls showing the president's support weakening among Democratic voters in blue states.

When a president asks for a prime-time slot to address a joint session of Congress, he is signaling to the country that he has something very important to say. Next Thursday President Obama will once again try to make a hard political pivot to the issue of jobs.

The effects of Hurricane Irene are still being felt and their costs being measured — from billion-dollar damages in New Jersey to ongoing flooding in New England.

For local and national leaders, natural disasters can sometimes be political disasters — or opportunities.

The lessons of Hurricane Katrina are seared into the memory of President Obama and every other politician in America. The president made sure that his emergency team was prepared and competent. He showed up at FEMA headquarters over the weekend, and Monday he gave an update from the Rose Garden.

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