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Exclusive: ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic Mounts Populist Primary Challenge to Biden from Jail

by EMMA-JO MORRIS 3 Jul 2023 New York, NY




Joe Exotic — AKA Joseph Maldonado-Passage, AKA Tiger King — is challenging President Joe Biden in the Democratic Party presidential primary from jail, telling Breitbart News he wants to “debate President Biden on his failed policies and broken promises.”


Exotic boasted a coalition of “everybody’s support in here … there’s over 160,000 federal inmates, there’s over two million people incarcerated, at this time, in the United States, now, if you take those two million, everybody that ever has been, and everybody that’s still waiting to be charged or sentenced in this country, and ten of their friends, I could win this,” in an interview by phone from FMC Fort Worth Federal Prison.


Nine states have banned felons from voting, including Arizona, Florida, and Iowa, and 15 states allow felons to vote only after serving prison time, parole and probation, including Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.


Exotic told Breitbart that, despite not fitting into the mainstream party, he is running as a Democrat and hoping to make the left-wing tent bigger.


“There’s just so many issues I don’t agree with, but I’m running as a Democrat because I think we can change some of the Democrat Party because I believe in abortion, I believe you have the right to carry a gun, and I believe that you have the freedom to have private property, so I kind of got everybody in one basket here,” Exotic said. “And I think if I do anything in this, I might be able to break the ice to show the American people that it doesn’t matter what party you’re in, you can believe, and you can give the rights to everybody because we have 330 million people-plus in this country, there’s no way you can run a country on one party. You just can’t.”

Asked about his policy platform, Exotic presented something like a left-wing populist agenda, running through a litany of stances on issues from the debt ceiling, to military adventurism, to climate, and forest management — emphasizing, “I live out here with you, I don’t live in a cushy office with leather couches and leather seats and a golden spoon in my mouth. I know what it takes to make this work and that’s what the American people need to hear right now.”


“We got to quit fighting everybody else and solving everybody else’s culture problems around the world. We keep raising our debt ceiling, our American people keep working, so our Congress and our government can squander the money away and send it to foreign countries to solve their issues. Meanwhile, we’re neglecting our veterans, we’re neglecting our mental health, we’re neglecting our elderly people, we’re cutting Social Security,” Exotic said.

“We raised the debt ceiling by $4 trillion in order to get by until 2025, with the hope of bringing down a trillion by the year 2030, when they’re gonna have to raise it two more times — how does any of this make sense?” he speculated, laughing.


“We’re supposed to be doing this ‘Green New Deal,’ and climate problems, and everything else. We buy our oil and our gas and our energy from countries that have dirtier energy, you know. We can produce it cleaner than any country in the world, but yet we get [energy] from them because we don’t want to destroy our so-called environment,” he continued, pivoting to environmental policy.

“But now we’re putting wind farms out in the ocean, now we’re going to destroy our oceans, killing our whales and everything else. Doesn’t make sense,” Exotic told Breitbart. “We can take care of our own energy, our own country, and do it cleaner, and just put enough restrictions on replacing, putting the ground back the way we found it after we extract it.”

“Clear-cutting the forest, you know, California doesn’t clear-cut because they’re tree huggers,” Exotic went on, referring to a forest management practice. “You don’t have the forest fires in Colorado and Wyoming like you do in California.”


Exotic exploded to national fame when he starred in the Netflix series Tiger King, released around the COVID-19 lockdown edicts in March 2020. He has been incarcerated since 2019 and is now serving 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of trying to hire a hitman to murder animal rights activist Carole Baskin, who fought with him over the wild animals kept in his private zoos. He was also convicted on multiple counts of animal abuse. Since then, he told Breitbart, he ran for governor of Oklahoma in 2018 (earning 664 votes as a Libertarian candidate, according to Ballotpedia). Before going to jail, he also ran for president in 2016 as an independent.

“It’s tough [running for office] because I don’t have access to being able to do campaign videos and I don’t [have] access to doing rallies. But I have a voice right now,” Exotic told Breitbart. “People are literally taking me serious, which surprises the hell out of me because I figured people would make fun of me, but it’s because my platform is legit and my issues are legit. This system has to change.”


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