Liz Halloran

Liz Halloran joined NPR in December 2008 as Washington correspondent for Digital News, taking her print journalism career into the online news world.

Halloran came to NPR from US News & World Report, where she followed politics and the 2008 presidential election. Before the political follies, Halloran covered the Supreme Court during its historic transition — from Chief Justice William Rehnquist's death, to the John Roberts and Samuel Alito confirmation battles. She also tracked the media and wrote special reports on topics ranging from the death penalty and illegal immigration, to abortion rights and the aftermath of the Amish schoolgirl murders.

Before joining the magazine, Halloran was a senior reporter in the Hartford Courant's Washington bureau. She followed Sen. Joe Lieberman on his ground-breaking vice presidential run in 2000, as the first Jewish American on a national ticket, wrote about the media and the environment and covered post-9/11 Washington. Previously, Halloran, a Minnesota native, worked for The Courant in Hartford. There, she was a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning team for spot news in 1999, and was honored by the New England Associated Press for her stories on the Kosovo refugee crisis.

She also worked for the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, Conn., and as a cub reporter and paper delivery girl for her hometown weekly, the Jackson County Pilot.

There were a lot of preliminaries, but it was Michelle Obama's show Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, and she used it masterfully — carrying a rapt crowd along with a narrative of family, hard work, and truth-telling.

Largely wrung of politics, the first lady's speech plotted parallels in her life and that of her husband, President Obama. She pointedly tracked their humble beginnings and strivings in an unspoken but clear contrast to the privileged upbringing of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

They billed the gathering in a Charlotte, N.C., Holiday Inn conference room Tuesday as the first national meeting of Mormon Democrats.

Don't laugh. Crystal Young-Otterstrom says she figures there are 1 million of them out there, and she's determined to find them.

"It's like a missionary effort," Young-Otterstrom said in a room packed with the curious, the media and a cadre of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints making the argument that the Democratic Party best represents their personal and religious values.

Over the past four years, the presidential narrative has shifted for African-Americans like Louisiana state Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith of Baton Rouge.

"I'm 66 years old," said Smith, at an event Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., for black state legislators here for the Democratic National Convention. "And before 2008, I didn't think I'd live to see a dream come true."

It's been a rough four years since Barack Obama accepted his party's nomination during a celebratory Denver convention that launched the freshman Illinois senator to the White House.

Recovery from the worst economy since the Great Depression has been excruciatingly slow. The national unemployment rate has remained stubbornly above 8 percent.

In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate in more than three decades to carry North Carolina.

This week, as President Obama heads back to North Carolina to accept his party's nomination, polls show that he may be hard-pressed to repeat his Tar Heel State success of four years ago.

But in the state lies an opportunity for Obama, political analyst Charlie Cook said Monday during a poll briefing in Charlotte, where the Democratic National Convention opens Tuesday.

It's been the political world's obsession for weeks leading into the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Would nominee Mitt Romney manage what would be miraculous for any candidate, and in a handful of days and one big speech wash away the problems of a modern candidacy?

Turns out Romney's moment Thursday night was a fine one, if not a great one.

His speech continued the campaign's concerted effort to reach out to skeptical female voters, reminding the audience that his strong mother ran for Senate.

With a jutting chin and growing fearlessness, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan delivered a GOP convention takedown of President Obama Wednesday night, catapulting an already ugly campaign to a whole new level.

At times pugnacious, at times seemingly emotional (he wiped away tears when talking about his mother), Ryan, 42, a Wisconsin congressman, used his well-crafted speech to characterize the nation's president and his bright promise as old, played out.

A day after their party embedded a tough, anti-same-sex-marriage stance in its official platform — one shared by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney — gay Republicans shrugged (virtually) and suggested that the intensity of the intraparty fight over the issue means victory is near.

When we arrived in Tampa for the Republican convention, much of the buzz centered on vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

A soft murmur of familiarity rippled through the packed GOP convention hall Tuesday night when Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, spoke not of their "storybook marriage" but of one touched by cancer, multiple sclerosis and the trials of raising five sometimes screaming children.

"A storybook marriage? Not at all," she said, during her much anticipated prime-time speech. "What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage."

It was that moment that encapsulated the job that Ann Romney had to do, and how well she managed it.

Alexander Reber may not be the youngest delegate at the Republican convention — that honor goes to his fellow Virginia delegate, 17-year-old high school senior Evan Draim.

But Reber, 21, who is an alternate, is certainly doing his part to lower the average age in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention opened Tuesday.

Oh, Isaac. How good you've been to the Ron Paul Revolution!

With 24 hours of nothing officially happening at the GOP convention in Tampa because of Tropical Storm Isaac, Ron Paul supporters for the second time in as many days made themselves the center of attention at Mitt Romney's big nomination party.

Republican congressman Ron Paul on Sunday turned his presidential swan song into a feisty rage against the political machine of his own party for legally manipulating him out of presidential convention delegates.

"They've learned how to bend rules, break rules and now they want to rewrite the rules," Paul told a raucous crowd of nearly 10,000 supporters who nearly filled the Sun Dome arena in Tampa, the city hosting this week's hurricane-delayed Republican National Convention.

Mitt Romney, 65, has spent the better part of a decade running for president. And as the son of a Michigan governor who headed a Detroit auto company, he's been in the public eye much longer.

Yet the former Massachusetts governor has remained an enigma to many voters, his political positions malleable, and much of his business and private life — including his Mormon religion — intentionally obscured.

Or simply declared off limits, like years of his tax returns.

Picking Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has helped GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the Badger State, but just a little, a new poll suggests.

Obama leads Romney among likely voters in Wisconsin, 49 percent to 46 percent, according to a Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday afternoon. The poll was conducted Aug. 16 through 19, following Ryan's selection as Romney's running mate on Aug. 11.

GOP officials and the Mitt Romney campaign have cut a deal with Texas Rep. Ron Paul's campaign to allow some — though not all — of Paul's delegates from Louisiana and Massachusetts to be seated at the Republican National Convention. The status of Maine's delegates remains unsettled.

The compromise would appear to avert a potential public clash with Paul supporters during the convention's opening day Monday.

Since GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, seems all we've been hearing about is Medicare and its future.

No surprise, of course: Ryan is the author of the GOP budget plan that would dramatically remake how the health care insurance program for seniors is managed and funded. He also calls for big changes to Medicaid, the insurance program for the poor, including elderly Americans who have exhausted their means.

The question of whether GOP vice presidential pick Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will ultimately help or hurt Mitt Romney's quest for the White House is the subject of fierce debate.

But some politicos are calling Ryan a kingmaker following former longtime Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson's slim victory Tuesday in the hotly contested, four-way Republican U.S Senate primary.

Why? Ryan gave Thompson a shout-out at a Badger State homecoming rally Sunday, and the former governor quickly incorporated the veep pick's endorsement-of-sorts into a campaign ad.

One of the candidates is House Speaker John Boehner's close friend and golfing buddy.

The other is an ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Both have their roots in rural Iowa, have long served together in the U.S. House, and are pretty darn well-liked by their constituents.

But Iowa, the focus of the political world this week, lost a House seat in congressional redistricting that came after the 2010 census.

Who Is He?

Joe Biden: Biden, whose own presidential aspirations sputtered in 1988 and again in 2008, brought to the Democratic ticket foreign policy chops and an ability to relate to working-class voters. In his 36 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate, he became known as more pragmatist than ideologue. He has also made a somewhat dubious name for himself because of his volubility and not infrequent verbal stumbles. But he has parlayed those potential liabilities into an effective, if occasionally unpredictable, campaign trail presence.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney discarded his increasingly inert better-safe-than-sorry campaign strategy Saturday when he named budget hawk and Democratic bete noire Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.

The line at the cavernous Smokey Row Coffee House in Oskaloosa stretched out the door and down the block, so long that dozens of Iowans waiting to see presidential candidate Barack Obama had to settle for a peek through the windows.

It was July 4, 2007, heady days for Obama in the Hawkeye State, where Democratic caucusgoers would soon launch him as a legitimate national contender, and where state voters would later turn out in record numbers to help put the first-term Illinois senator into the White House.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continued Tuesday to push back on calls to release more years of tax returns and defended keeping investments in offshore accounts — both issues that have been dogging his run for the White House.

As the presidential campaigns continue to ramp up their attacks (see: felon, liar, outsourcing), the candidates are homing in this week on the country's electoral fertile crescent.

President Obama may have disappointed the NAACP by appearing only via brief video message Thursday at the civil rights group's annual gathering — especially after Mitt Romney had personally taken the stage a day earlier.

But sending in Vice President Biden to stir things up, just 24 hours after Romney was booed while delivering a conservative message meant to resonate beyond the walls of the Houston convention center, seemed to work out just fine for Obama.

Pages