A Breitbart boat party and Trump fans everywhere: What it’s like at CPAC, the largest annual gathering of conservatives

briebart boat party cpac

The Conservative Political Action Conference took place this week in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.

The annual political confab has been the largest gathering of conservatives since its inception in 1974. Thousands attend each year to listen to luminaries deliver speeches and offer their vision for the future of conservatism. 

This year was no different. With a noticeable tilt toward Trumpism, the 2017 conference brought together conservatives of all different stripes and concluded with a boat party held by Breitbart.

Business Insider attended the conference. Here are some of the sights we saw.

SEE ALSO: There was one group noticeably absent from CPAC this year

CPAC was held this year at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Here's the main check in stand where attendees picked up their badges.

After picking up conference credentials, attendees proceed inside. Just outside the main ballroom, where the high-profile speeches are delivered, is what's dubbed as "radio row." Conservative outlets broadcast their shows live from CPAC here.

There were many interesting sights on radio row. Here's a man dressed up as a swamp creature. President Donald Trump, of course, famously promised during the campaign to "drain the swamp" of corruption.

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TOP DEMOCRATIC SENATOR: The party has to do these 3 things to start winning again

Hillary Clinton

The Democratic Party is in the midst of an identity crisis — but a leading Democratic senator said he has an idea of what the left needs to do in order to win at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, speaking with Business Insider during a promotional tour for his new book, "Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy," outlined three planks the party needs to run on in future elections.

The first, he said, was directly related to his book, which outlined what he believes to be the negative effects of corporate influence on the political system.

"I think one of the reasons I wrote this book is that I think this issue needs to be brought out front and center," he said. "If you have to compete with an entity that is actually a front group for a big special interest and you haven't successfully told the story of how it's just the end of the tentacle, then you're going to be at a huge disadvantage. And what it says will be given more face-value credit by the public than if they knew, 'Oh, OK, that's the glove with the Koch brothers hand in it, with Wall Street's hand in it.' So I think it's really important we focus on that."

Whitehouse added disclosure of donations "ought to be a really, really big deal for us."

The second plank, he said, needs to be a "really, really strong and simplified economic message," something he said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did not do in 2016. 

"And we love, love, love to prove our bona fides by having a really good plan," he said. "And nobody wants to hear about a plan. They want a wall or something simple and captivating. And 10-point plans kind of go in the metal disposal bin."

"Stuff that people can envision and we can deliver," he added. "I've spent 10 years in the Senate now and the talk about messaging is making me increasingly insane. I don't think you earn the right to a message until you've earned it by having a real fight, really being willing to stand up for what you believe in."

He said Democrats' tendency to be "constantly" moving "from message point to message point, positioning yourself on issues without ever taking a step back, deciding what the hell you're going to do, and jamming it through as best you can, or at least making it one hell of a big fight so that everyone in the country knows that it took place," is a major "mistake."

The party must take a handful of issues and be exceptionally visible on them, he said, naming student-debt relief and a carbon tax as two such things.

"You can pick others, but I think having just a visible known few that become our, 'If you elect us, this is what you will get or we will die trying,'" he said.

The third plank, he said, was making sure the party is "solid" on its national security and defense platform.

Far too often, he added, Democrats let themselves get painted as weak on both.

"I think that's where, just not letting ourselves get painted into a soft-on-safety corner," he said. "But I think that having a lot of respect for law enforcement and showing it, having a lot of respect for the military and showing it — and getting ahead of the big liabilities like cybersecurity are very good places to be."

"I don't think that's going to be a winning hand for us, but it keeps ... a winning hand from becoming a winning hand for the Republicans," he continued.

The GOP has been extremely successful in painting the Democrats as soft in those areas, he added.

"Look at 2014 when ISIS popped up and Ebola popped up and the children from Guatemala and Central America were starting to come across the border," he said. "And the next thing you know Fox News had turned that all into the Ebola babies coming over the borders to come slice your head off like ISIS into kind of one big panic. And our Democratic message that election was exactly zero. And we just got crushed as a result."

"So that's the proof that we can't let ourselves get boxed in on it," he continued. "Because frankly, we had just as good policies if not better in those areas. We just don't talk about them."

Each of the three seems to come back to one core idea: that Democrats don't have their messaging together, or haven't been able to effectively get their message across.

So why have the Democrats struggled so mightily with this?

"Well, I think if I knew that I would be a bigger wheel in our operation," Whitehouse said. "I don't know the answer to that. I think partly it comes from the sort of big-tent, check-the-box politics that can emerge from a party that has very broad but not particularly deep backing. So, you've got right with Planned Parenthood, you've got right with the LGBT community, you've got right with public labor unions, you've got right with the private labor unions, you've got right with young voters, and you kind of, every time you do that, there's another added step."

"And like the guy with 1,000 nails, nothing penetrates because there are so many nails you can actually lie on them comfortably," he continued. "So nothing actually sank through."

Sheldon Whitehouse

"So, I don't know, those are some of my original thoughts," he continued. "If we were ... if it were just a few more centralized forces who ran our party, then you would say, 'All right, these are the sort of three or four things we're pushing on.' And to the folks in other industries who aren't part of those three or four, we'd just say, 'Look, shut up for now — we're trying to win this election. We'll take care of you when we're in. You know we will. So stand by. You don't have to clamor.'"

Democratic voters must take a viewpoint that many on the right have been able to more easily embrace, particularly in electing President Donald Trump — a focus on winning.

"Everybody, to have their issue at the forefront as your measure of success — your measure of success is we get in, and then we deliver for you," he said. "And, that simply doesn't work on our side the way it does on the other side."

"For us, it's an uphill fight to get a clear, distinctive, memorable message out of the cacophony of our multiple support groups," he continued. "For the other side, it's actually kind of delivered to them by the organizations behind them that dominate in the Republican political background ... and so I think my colleagues kind of sit on the table reading from the package. When it comes, they go out and sell it. Whereas we're all like out with everybody making sure it's success for us if we get their idea on the table and the platform has to have 90 different parts to it and if anybody is left out they're all jumping up and down about it."

SEE ALSO: Democratic senator on GOP colleague Lindsey Graham in Trump era: He's been 'incredibly politically brave'

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Jordan Peele explains why his horror movie about racism is what we need in the Trump era

Jordan Peele 2x1

Jordan Peele is a horror fanatic. That may come as a shock to some who only know him as half of the duo behind the Comedy Central series "Key & Peele," alongside Keegan-Michael Key, but Peele is showing off his darker side in his directorial debut, "Get Out" (in theaters Friday) — and it's quite impressive.

In exploring the perennial issue of racial division in America, Peele combines "Rosemary's Baby" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" to deliver a chilling look at a black man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) visiting his white girlfriend's (Allison Williams) parents for the first time. Peele, who also wrote the film's screenplay, creates a creeping send of paranoia and dread around racial politics, which spirals into full-fledged horror that's not short on scares or gore. And the movie and its social message will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

Peele talked to Business Insider about the challenges that came with directing, why the movie is even more important now that Donald Trump is president, and his plan to make more "social thrillers."    

Jason Guerrasio: What were the motivations behind writing this?

Jordan Peele: I wanted to become a better writer. This movie, among others that I've been working on, are really total passion projects and this one rose to the surface early as one that could fill a gap in the genre.

Guerrasio: How far back was this?

Peele: It was around when Obama was running for office. With him and Hillary Clinton going head-to-head for the Democratic nomination, I was thinking of the gender and racial civil rights movements in terms of one another. That's what opened my mind, because with "The Stepford Wives" and "Rosemary's Baby," films that successfully tackle gender politics and do it in an entertaining way, I was validated that there was a way to tackle race and horror in a similar way.

get out universalGuerrasio: For you, is it story first, or while writing are you also thinking about how you can shoot certain sequences?

Peele: First of all, with a horror movie, you want to know where the engine of the fear is coming from. Like in comedy, you want to know what the engine that's going to make the comedy — where that's coming from. So for me that started with the feeling of being the outsider. The fear of being the outsider, the fear of being the other. That was the first part. As it evolved, it became more apparent that race was the real fear here. And that was what the movie had to be about.

Guerrasio: So early on you were dancing with the idea of race being in the story and then it just kind of became the main theme?

Peele: Yeah. In a way it starts with images and moments that I know are bubbling to the surface, just cinematic instincts. The reason it takes a long time is you have to weave together and find meaning in the images your subconscious is presenting. And pretty quickly I realized that the discussion of racism and horror was what was missing, and what my own personal demons are about.

Guerrasio: Was the party scene in the movie, that feeling of all eyes turning to you, one of those early images?

Peele: I once had a nightmare where I was going through the lobby of a bank and I turn the corner into the area where the elevator is and everybody that had been walking around bustling in the bank lobby — you just hear their voices stop. And the energy of the voices stops. And the energy of them moving stops. I tiptoe back around the corner facing the lobby. Everyone that was paying me no mind is facing me, and standing there. It was such a powerful, creepy image, and I use it in this movie.

get out party universal finalGuerrasio: I talked to Terry Crews once and he told me he used to get scared when he was the only black person in a bank.

Peele: [Laughs] It's no joke. There's something in the collective subconscious going on there. And there's something unique about the black experience in that way. Well, I guess it's not unique to black experience — other minorities face it. The fear that you'll be viewed as the thief or the outsider. You will be the target of scapegoating. It's very real. And makes perfect sense, why Terry and I are afraid of the bank.

Guerrasio: I would think both of you should feel good going into banks now. What was the bigger roadblock, the subject matter or getting a big name attached to the project?

Peele: I was probably the biggest roadblock. I didn't think it could get made because of the subject matter. But when I sat down at QC Entertainment, I had a general meeting and I was like, "Look, let me tell you about this movie premise I have that's never gonna get made but let me just give you an idea of the type of things I want to do." And at the end of that meeting, he wanted to make the movie. I think I developed the idea and the script enough that some people in Hollywood got it. He got it, Blumhouse [Productions] expressed interest shortly after, and they really got it. And they were the perfect match. There were other places that didn't get it.

Guerrasio: I had assumed you probably directed some "Key & Peele" episodes, but this movie is your first credit as a director, ever. Were there times where this got overwhelming?

Peele: Absolutely. There were times, especially during production, where there are some do-or-die decisions that need to be made. There are things that come up that you really have to — just some big cannonballs you have to dodge, basically. But thanks to my experience at "Key & Peele," knowing how production works, learning from Peter Atencio who did direct the vast majority of "Key & Peele" — that was just invaluable for me to learn how to do it.

Guerrasio: Give me an example of one of those cannonballs. 

Peele: The idea is problems are going to arise. And you have to figure out how to maintain the vision and avoid that problem, or change something big to keep the continuity of the vision. We were going to shoot this movie here in Los Angeles until about a month before we were set to shoot, and then I got a call saying we had to figure out someplace else for tax reasons [eds note: filming took place in Alabama].

jordan peele universalGuerrasio: That's a gigantic curveball.

Peele: A gigantic curveball, and a real lesson that sometimes blessings come in strange packages. Because I think the movie is what it's meant to be. I think it might be a better movie than we would've done in here in LA. Also just a big lesson that you can get past the insurmountable.

Guerrasio: You've mentioned "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Stepford Wives." Having now directed a movie, can any of those reference points help at all while you're actually directing?

Peele: Absolutely. This was made out of my influences, really. You find the moments where something's coming from your subconscious and you have to build a story around your dreams and the things that hit you in the gut. But in the execution of those things, I'm basically speaking in terms of all my favorite movies.

Guerrasio: Did "Get Out" change at all through things that happened in the country in the last handful of years? Whether it be Ferguson or Trayvon Martin or even the Trump election? Did suddenly a line make more sense or a sequence make more sense than it did before?

Peele: The whole movie's purpose, a little bit. In the beginning, we're in the Obama presidency and race was not supposed to be discussed. It was almost like, if you talk about race, it will appear and we're past that now. So the movie was about calling it as I was seeing it, in that regard. With the emergence of Black Lives Matter and the discussion becoming focused on the police violence, when the country got more woke, this movie's purpose transformed into something that was meant to provide a hero and release from all the real horrors of the world.

Guerrasio: Was anything added after Trump was elected? Or was it just a feeling that the movie was now going to mean something more?

Peele: A little more of the latter. I knew I made something universal and I just think it's more relevant now as the need for racial discussion is more obvious now. What people are willing to engage with — especially if it brings a little escapism at the same time.

Get Out UniversalGuerrasio: Now it's just even more interesting.

Peele: The conversation is happening. Which I think is difficult, but a good thing. I think it's more healthy for us than the other version, which is let's ignore it all.

Guerrasio: Your wife is comedian Chelsea Peretti, who is white. Was she a good sounding board for this? Did she throw in a joke or a line here or there?

Peele: I wrote it before I met her, really. But I was dating her during the process.

Guerrasio: That must have been an interesting topic to bring up when you guys started dating. By the way, I have this script about...

Peele: [Laughs] Yeah. But she loves this film and she really gets it and gets a devilish kick out of it. Anything I do, creative or otherwise, she's a perfect sounding board. Which is one of the reasons we're a great couple. We both have our own projects and we both really root for each other and trust each other's opinion.

Guerrasio: But can you come to each other with an objective opinion?

Peele: Yeah, we have total trust that there's no ego attached to each other's opinion. She'll tell me if something, she won't be rude, but I can tell if she doesn't like something. Or if she's not into something I've done. She's the perfect sounding board.

Guerrasio: Did the comic relief just come naturally in the writing? Specifically Chris' friend, Rod (LilRel Howery).

Peele: Yeah. I think first and foremost the Rod character is a release for the audience. Because he's kind of realistic. He's saying the things that we're mumbling as an audience. He feels like a real friend and it makes sense that somebody with his conspiracy-theory brain would zone in on something being wrong here before even Chris does.

Guerrasio: What are your future plans for directing? Could you fathom a sequel?

Peele: I can fathom anything, man. I love biting off more than I can chew and figuring it out. I have four other social thrillers that I want to unveil in the next decade.

Guerrasio: What's the biggest takeaway from this experience that you will hold onto when you direct again?

Peele: You hear it said time and time again by successful directors: You have to make a movie for yourself. Don't make it for anyone else. My style of filmmaking happens to be give the audience what they know they don't want, but they want. Ultimately I have to write and direct in a way that let's just say, you don't want to regret making a choice.

Guerrasio: Can you tease at all what you have in store for us with these other social thrillers?

Peele: I'll say this: The scariest monster in the world is human beings and what we are capable of, especially when we get together. I'm working on these premises about these different social demons. These innately human monsters that have been woven into the fabric of how we think and how we interact. Each one of my movies is going to be about one of these different social demons. The first one being "Get Out," is about race and neglect and marginalization.


SEE ALSO: How a movie about black NASA heroes became the crowd-pleasing Oscar contender of the year

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DNC narrowly elects Tom Perez as new chair

Tom PerezATLANTA — In an extremely close race that went to multiple rounds of balloting, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected Saturday to head the Democratic National Committee, ending the months-long jockeying for the top spot in the Democratic Party's election arm.

Perez was elected with 235 votes, narrowly defeating Rep. Keith Ellison. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Idaho Democratic Party chair Sally Boynton Brown, who also ran, dropped out on Saturday.

During the first round of voting, Perez fell just one vote short of the number needed to win the chair.

In his first motion as chairman, Perez moved to make Ellison the deputy chairman of the DNC, a new position. He praised the Minnesota congressman at length, emphasizing that the Democratic Party needed to come together and comparing the rifts in the party to a "spirited" political discussion over Thanksgiving dinner.

"When I was looking in the audience, there was someone holding up a sign that says 'Unite.' And I could not agree more. For the two of us, that is easy, because we were always united in our values," Perez said. "And we are united in our love for the Democratic Party."

The decision came after a contest which some viewed as a rehash of the 2016 presidential primary, with Perez garnering support from establishment figures like former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder and Ellison representing the ascendant progressive wings of the Democratic Party. President Barack Obama, under whom Perez served, congraulated him on the victory, as did 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

"Congrats to @DNC chair @TomPerez & deputy @keithellison. Excited for strong, unified party standing for best of our country into the future," Clinton tweeted.

Some close to Ellison felt the congressman's victory would have rectified the DNC's treatment of Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primary, in which some DNC staffers appeared to favor Clinton over the Vermont senator.

"The mood is that the previous leadership of the DNC was biased toward one candidate, and biased against another candidate," Brian Ellison, Keith's brother, said shortly before the vote.

"It's not even about Tom Perez. It's about Obama, Hillary, and the people feeling slighted from Bernie Sanders' slight," he added.

Standing onstage after Perez's victory, Ellison called for unity within the Democratic Party, telling supporters that Democrats "don't have the luxury to be divided."

"I'm very very proud of Chairman Perez. He conducted himself with class, grace," Ellison said. "If you came here supporting me ... I'm asking you to give everything you've got to support Chairman Perez."

Some members were unconcerned with the perceived rehash of the primary fight.

"There's a little bit of [animosity] between Tom and Keith and their supporters. But I think we are getting beyond it," said Gary Winston Apple, a DNC member from Missouri who supported Ellison. 

Others noted that chairs need to focus on uniting the party. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who backed Perez, dismissed that the contest was a "proxy war," but advised the chair to call members who did not vote for him to offer an olive branch.

"Call every other person who voted for someone else and say 'This is also your party and you're just as important and I want to work with you,'" Garcetti told Business Insider on Friday. 

He added: "Whoever wins should be calling everybody else and saying, 'Let's make sure we're unified.'"

SEE ALSO: 'It transformed me': Donna Brazile reflects on 'constant harassment,' bomb threats that came after DNC hacks

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The Jaguar F-PACE sets a new standard for beauty in luxury SUVs

Jaguar F PACE 11

It's a Jaguar. It's an SUV. It's a Jaguar SUV.

Yes, that day has finally come. At the Los Angeles auto show in 2015, Jaguar Land Rover officially unveiled its first-ever sport utility for the US market. Last year later, we got our hands on it.

In the flesh, the vehicle, called F-PACE, was as stunning on the street as we initially thought it was on the showroom floor in LA. The name, which is meant to connect the crossover in nomenclature with Jag's F-Type sports cars, is weird. But the machine is beautiful — the most gorgeous SUV currently available, we think, thanks to the aesthetic ministrations of designer Ian Callum.

Jaguar shares a corporate stable with Land Rover, so it's not as if these folks don't know how to bolt together a stupendous offroader. They've been doing it for decades. 

But how would a Jaguar SUV stack up? After all, Jag is a sedan-and-sports-car brand, full of British panache. Does a suburban family hauler really fit, even it if that's what the market wants?

We had a few days in the Northeast with the 2017 F-PACE to find out:

Photos by Hollis Johnson.

SEE ALSO: One of these 15 finalists will become Business Insider's 2016 Car of the Year

Our $72,000 test vehicle was extremely well kitted out, as they might say across the pond. It was the "First Edition" trim level, and the color was an alluring Caesium Blue. Only 275 will be built.

It isn't easy to design a stylish, sporty SUV. In fact, it's nearly impossible. The basic form for the segment is a large rectangular box with a wheel at each of the four corners and a big liftgate dominating the rear. But Callum has performed magic with the F-PACE.

The legendary Jaguar badge is fairly tasteful emblazoned on the finely boned, blacked out front grille. No leaping cat hood ornament, unfortunately.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider