AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a satirical blog post that does not describe a real-life event. For all future blog posts, satirical blog posts will be marked with (SATIRE:) before the blog post title, and non-satirical blog posts will contain no such marking.
Earlier today, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, delivered an absolutely awful debate performance…against a robot created as part of a joint project between students and professors of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The debate was held inside of a greenhouse on the UW-Madison campus, with no spectators admitted to the debate site, although video of the debate was recorded and streamed online.
While the robot, named “Samantha”, responded to debate moderator Mike Gousha’s questions truthfully and honestly (Samantha’s political ideology is similar to that of Democratic elected officials in the Madison, Wisconsin area) and didn’t give any repetitive responses, Rubio mostly stuck to a canned line claiming that “President Obama knows what he’s doing, and he wants to radically change America”. At one point in the debate, Samantha chided Rubio for being “robotic” with his responses, prompting members of a focus group watching the internet livestream of the debate to burst out in laughter.
Samantha also commanded a deep knowledge of Rubio’s political track record, bringing up, among other things, Rubio rarely showing up to vote in the U.S. Senate, his use of a Florida Republican Party credit card for personal expenses, and his opposition to LGBT rights. This put Rubio on the defensive throughout the debate; in fact, towards the end of the debate, Rubio was barely able to give audible responses to debate questions.
Samantha’s closing statement (per debate rules, Rubio and Samantha were limited to one-sentence closing statements) was absolutely legendary:
If, after watching the debate, you think that Senator Rubio is more robotic than an actual robot, you’re not alone.
Sara Goldrick-Rab, a UW-Madison professor who led the effort to build Samantha, was absolutely delighted after seeing a video of the debate, saying that her team had built “an absolutely awesome robot” that “delivered a memorable debate performance”.