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.

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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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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?

There has been a big reset in the culture wars.

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the rights of gays and lesbians to marry in all 50 states. States across the South are lowering the confederate flag, and the Supreme Court has, for the second time, voted to preserve the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

The results marked big wins for liberals after decades-long battles, in one form or another, on some of the issues.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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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.)

The idea that the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage is a good thing for Republicans sounds counterintuitive — after all, the GOP is the party of traditional marriage.

But here's why it might actually be a good thing for the party:

1. Public opinion is changing — at lightning speed.

There's never been a social issue in America on which public attitudes reached a tipping point so quickly.

Marco Rubio, the charismatic, Hispanic, young (and even younger-looking) freshman senator from Florida is launching his campaign for the White House Monday in Miami.

Rubio, 43, will be entering a growing field of candidates. Right now, he's considered a second-tier candidate, polling behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the man Rubio has called a mentor.

That could change once he gets in. Rubio's advisers believe he has a path to the nomination, with assets few other candidates can match.

Rand Paul is not like other potential presidential candidates.

The Kentucky senator, who announced his candidacy for the White House on Tuesday morning, doesn't fit neatly into the molds of either party.

Socially liberal on issues of crime and punishment — especially when it comes to drug sentencing — against a federal ban on same-sex marriage, and no foreign policy hawk, he's not your prototypical Republican.

As a fiscal conservative and an opponent of abortion rights, though, he's certainly no Democrat either.

Following a firestorm of criticism, Republican governors in Indiana and Arkansas signed revised versions of their states' Religious Freedom Restoration bills Thursday night. In Indiana the language was adjusted, and in Arkansas it was significantly scaled back to more closely align with the federal law.

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