RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The state GOP is getting some mileage out of an April Fool's hoax: a fake website announcing Attorney General Roy Cooper is running for governor.
Most observers expect Cooper will run but he hasn't said so officially.
The GOP-sourced website roycooperforgovernor.com makes a spoof announcement, quoting Cooper as saying "I'm running for governor, because... well, why not? But don't ask me where I stand on the issues!"
"Today is April Fool's Day," said GOP Executive Director Todd Poole, "but North Carolinians aren't fooled that Roy Cooper has spent the last two years running for governor on taxpayer time."
Poole says Cooper has been blurring the lines between "de facto candidate" and Attorney General.
"Part of the reason this website is so believable," said Poole, "is that everyone knows Roy Cooper is going to run for governor. It's just a matter of what day, what time, he's going to announce."
Another reason the website may seem so real is that it looks similar to a legitimate website dedicated to Cooper's election.
Cooper hasn't announced but you'd never know it from the video that first pops up with you go to roycooper.com.
"For many of us it's personal," Cooper says in the spot. "In just one year's time, Gov. McCrory and the Tea Party legislature have gutted public education funding, blocked health care for seniors in nursing homes, made it harder to register and vote."
The introduction video runs more than three minutes and features Cooper blasting Republicans and offering Democratic solutions to statewide issues.
Poole maintains Cooper shouldn't be doing that given his day job.
"His job as attorney general is to be the attorney for the state of North Carolina and you can't be the attorney of the state of North Carolina by attacking our governor and our legislature."
But where Poole and the NC GOP created the spoof website to drive that point home, they got even more mileage out of it when at least two reporters took the hoax to heart.
One radio talk show host in Charlotte reported it, and then tweeted: "Whoops, the @NCGOP just fooled the ---- out of me LIVE on the air. Roy Cooper not running for Governor."
That tweet went out to nearly 700 people.
Another, reporting the same news, went out to more than 30,000.
No one in Cooper's office or other Democrats would talk about the spoof site on camera. They all said doing so would "legitimize a hoax."
The state Democratic party did send ABC11 a quote, which said, "Judging by recent press coverage, it's no wonder Gov. McCrory's campaign team is looking for a distraction. Perhaps their effort and considerable resources would be better spent helping the governor properly fill out his state ethics forms."
That's a not-so subtle jab at a series of mistakes the Governor made on recent disclosure statements.
How much did the website cost the GOP to build? They wouldn't say. But they did tell ABC11 that they expect 2016 to be the most expensive election year in the state's history.
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North Carolina GOP creates fake website announcing Roy Cooper is running for governor
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