Democratic debate: Joe Biden gaffe sends viewers to spoof website supporting Pete Buttigieg

Colin Drury

It took just minutes for the spoof website to be set up.

Moments after US presidential hopeful Joe Biden had directed voters to a campaign site that did not exist during Wednesday’s Democrat leadership debate, some wag had grabbed the URL and set up a fake – in support of rival Pete Buttigieg.

Mr Biden’s gaffe – in which he told viewers to “go to Joe30330” rather than “text JOE to 30330” – was seen by many to raise serious questions about the 76-year-old’s understanding of digital technology.

But, for others, it was a starting gun on an online race to buy the domain name cited by the former vice-president.

Josh Fayer, a 21-year-old public relations student at Syracuse University in New York, said he had just stopped watching the debate when a friend texted to say he had managed to grab the rights to Joe30330.

The pair decided to redirect it to Mr Fayer’s parody presidential campaign site “Josh for America”, which he had launched as an April Fool’s joke this year.

The site introduces him as “the first Gen Z’er to declare candidacy for this office” and includes a video that stated his platform of “no homework in college”.

He told the Reuters news agency: “I don’t have any broader ambitions for a fake exploratory committee. I didn’t file any of the paperwork.”

He initially said he did not want to endorse any presidential candidate but, by Thursday morning, the site’s donate button sent visitors to a page inviting them to contribute to the campaign of “our good friend Pete Buttigieg”.

The campaign for Mr Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Mr Biden campaign also declined to comment.