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What to know about the Trump strategist’s embrace of AI to help conservatives

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Brad Parscale was the digital guru behind it Donald TrumpThe surprising victory in 2016 Choice and was promoted to 2020 campaign director. But he didn’t last long in that job: His personal life began to publicly unravel, and he later texted a friend that he felt “guilty” for helping Trump win after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Since then he has been an evangelist about the power of artificial intelligence to change the way Republicans run political campaigns. And his company is working for Trump’s 2024 candidacy, trying to help the presumptive Republican nominee retake the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden.

Here’s what you should know about Parscale and his new role:

Parscale says his company, Campaign Nucleus, can use AI to generate customized emails, analyze reams of data to gauge voter sentiment and find persuasive voters. It can also amplify the social media posts of “anti-woke” influencers, according to an Associated Press review of Parscale’s public statements, his corporate documents, slide presentations, marketing materials and other records not previously made public.

Soon, Parscale says, his company will deploy an app that uses AI to help campaigns collect mail-in ballots, just as DoorDash or Grubhub drivers pick up dinners at restaurants and deliver them to customers.

Parscale was a relatively unknown web designer in San Antonio, Texas, when he was hired to build a web presence for Trump’s family business.

That led to a job on the future president’s 2016 campaign. He was an early hire and led an unorthodox digital strategy, teaming up with scandal-plagued Cambridge Analytica to help Trump win the White House.

“I basically used Facebook to get Trump elected in 2016,” Parscale said in a 2022 podcast interview.

After Trump’s surprise victory, Parscale’s influence grew. He was promoted to manager of Trump’s re-election bid and enjoyed celebrity status. Parscale is a huge, 6-foot-tall figure with a Viking-style beard. At campaign events, he was often spotted taking selfies with Trump supporters and signing autographs.

Parscale was replaced as campaign manager shortly after a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, drew an unexpectedly small crowd and angered Trump.

Since last year, Campaign Nucleus and other companies affiliated with Parscale have received more than $2.2 million from the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and related political action and fundraising committees, campaign finance records show.

Parscale did not respond to questions from the AP about what he does for the Trump campaign. Trump has called artificial intelligence “so scary” and “dangerous,” while his campaign, which has shied away from highlighting Parscale’s role, said in an emailed statement that it does not use tools provided by an AI company. used or used”.

Companies affiliated with Parscale were paid to host websites, send emails, provide fundraising software and digital consulting, campaign finance records show.

The Biden campaign and the Democrats also use AI. So far, they said they are using the technology primarily to find and engage voters and to better identify and combat misleading content.

Last year, Parscale bought property in Midland, Texas, in the heart of the country’s highest-producing oil and gas fields. It’s also the hometown of Tim Dunn, a born-again evangelical billionaire who is one of the state’s most influential political donors.

Last April, Dunn invested $5 million in a company called AiAdvertising, which once bought one of Parscale’s companies under a previous company name. The San Antonio-based advertising company also said Parscale is joining as a strategic advisor and will receive $120,000 in stock and a monthly salary of $10,000.

“Boom!” Parscale tweeted. “(AiAdvertising) has finally automated the entire deployment of the technologies that were used in the 2016 election and changed the world.”

AiAdvertising has added two major national figures to its board: Texas investor Thomas Hicks Jr. — former co-chair of the RNC and longtime hunting buddy of Donald Trump Jr. — and former GOP congressman Jim Renacci. In January, Dunn gave AiAdvertising an additional $2.5 million through an investment company, and AiAdvertising said in a press release that the cash infusion would help “generate more engaging and impactful campaigns.”

Dunn declined to comment and AiAdvertising did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Parscale occasionally offers insights into the AI ​​future he envisions. Describing himself as an outsider to the Republican establishment, he said he viewed AI as a way to undermine elite advisers in Washington, whom he described as political parasites.

In January, Parscale told a crowd gathered at a grassroots Christian event at a church in Pasadena, California, that her movement “needs our own AI, from creative large language models and creative images, we need to reach our own audiences with our own “Sales, our own email systems, our own SMS systems, our own ability to run TV ads, and finally we need our own influencers.”

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Burke reported from San Francisco. AP National Political Writer Steve Peoples in Washington and Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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This story is part of the Associated Press series “The AI ​​Campaign,” which examines the influence of artificial intelligence in the 2024 election cycle.

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Contact AP’s global investigative team at Investigative@ap.org or https://www.ap.org/tips/

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The Associated Press receives financial support from the Omidyar Network to support its coverage of artificial intelligence and its impact on society. AP is solely responsible for all content. At AP.org you can find the AP Standards for Working with Charities, a list of supporters and supported areas

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