Jason Palmer Says AI Helped Him Block Biden’s Presidential Primary Sweep

Estimated read time 4 min read
  • Jason Palmer, a Democratic challenger, won American Samoa’s primary, blocking a Biden sweep.
  • The long shot candidate credits his embrace of AI as part of his success.
  • Palmer, an entrepreneur, uses AI to text and email voters, and an AI avatar to talk with them.

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Jason Palmer, the youngest Democratic challenger for president in the 2024 election, beat out incumbent Joe Biden in American Samoa’s primary election on Super Tuesday — an unexpected win he credits AI with helping him achieve.

Palmer received 51 total votes in American Samoa’s primary, compared to Biden’s 40. While Palmer’s surprise victory prevented a Biden sweep across all primary elections and secured the Democrat from Maryland three delegates, American Samoa, as a US territory, will not participate in the general election in November.

Despite his long shot chance of unseating Biden as the Democratic party’s nominee for president, Palmer told Business Insider his campaign’s strength has surged in recent weeks in part due to his embrace of technology like artificial intelligence, which he uses for email and text messaging to voters, as well as on his website in the form of an AI-powered avatar.

PalmerAI, a chatbot on his campaign site, features the likeness of the candidate and simulations of his voice that can respond to voters in real time as they type out questions they have for the candidate. The image of Palmer blinks somewhat uncannily, nods, and offers a slight smile to voters before reading out responses based on their queries.

“I’ve learned that when I talk to a voter and they feel like they get to know me, there’s a very high degree of likelihood they’re going to vote for me, but if they don’t get to talk to me, then I’m just a kind of random person and they’re asking ‘who is Jason Palmer?’ like they’re all saying on the talk shows these days,” Palmer told BI. “And so this is an attempt to give people a chance to ask their three or four questions right up front, then they don’t have to read through 25 pages on my website to find the policy position they care about.”

‘It is able to figure out my position and get it sometimes better’

The candidate told BI that it took less than $25,000 for his campaign to build version one of PalmerAI, adding that he’s “pretty impressed” with how it turned out. The bot came to life after Palmer spent several hours recording himself reading speeches and excerpts from books to capture his voice, and his campaign plans to improve the bot’s responses as they continue operations across the 16 states and territories where Palmer is listed on the ballot.

While its residents aren’t able to vote in the general election, American Samoa has turned out unexpected primary results before. In 2020, billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s only win in the Democratic primaries came from the territory. Despite the odds, Palmer hopes his win there will create momentum for his campaign in states like Arizona, Kansas, and Missouri.

“It is able to figure out my position and get it sometimes better than even if you ask me the question. If you ask me, I’m too verbose and I take 60 seconds, but it gives you a really tight answer that’s like 10 seconds long,” Palmer said.

He added: “I think most people are blown away by our campaign using this technology because it would have taken like $10 million to build five years ago. And that’s partly because AI has gotten so much better. But it’s also because I’m the first technology entrepreneur who’s ever run for president, and I’m not 80 years old, I’m actually in the prime of my entrepreneurial life.”

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI regarding whether the incumbent president plans to use AI in his reelection bid.

However, Biden’s voice was spoofed in an AI-generated robocall discouraging constituents from voting in the New Hampshire primary, resulting in Biden calling for a ban on using the tech for voice impersonation during his State of the Union address, so it’s unlikely the 81-year-old is keen on AI’s widespread adoption in politics.