The Trump administration has dominated the conservative gathering with high profile panel appearances. And the president capped that domination in his hour-plus remarks to a crowd that responded to him in much the same style as his campaign rallies: multiple standing ovations and repeated shouts of “Lock her up” and “Build a wall.”
“He’s done a lot of listening to conservative leaders over the years and his agenda is a conservative agenda,” Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, told ABC News. “I would say right now the relationship is blooming, it’s blossoming.”
It was a marked difference from 2016 when then-candidate Trump pulled out of the conference at the last minute, which Schlapp, at the time, called “disappointing.”
"There is no better messenger for our party that gets that enthusiasm going and who relates to the voters how much we need them more than the President," McDaniel said.
It was also notable who did not address the crowd: Former White House adviser Steve Bannon, who was warmly received at CPAC just a year ago, was no where to be seen this year and his absence seemed barely notable, an indication of just how much this movement has shifted to the president.
Speaking to a packed room Trump seemed happy to be the leader of the conservative cause.
“We’ve proved I’m a conservative,” he told the cheering crowd, some of whom waved campaign-style signs and others of whom wore red “Make America Great Again” caps.
And, at multiple times during the speech, Trump implored the crowd to elect more Republicans in the 2018 midterms, which will be the first national referendum on his presidency.
“Right now we have a big race coming up in '18. You have to get out. Get that enthusiasm, keep it going. See the word really is complacent. People get complacent. You just won, you're happy and you get complacent. Don't be complacent,” he said.
The president reminded the crowd the party that holds the Oval Office often loses seats in Congress during the next midterm election, a fear Republicans are battling as they head into November.
Democrats are hopeful they can take control of at least one chamber of Congress in the next year, which would allow them to block the president’s agenda.
The 2018 midterms were a hot topic of conversation among the attendees with other Republicans asked about GOP chances in November.
“I think it could be a fight here for Republicans. We just have to go out and keep fighting hard,” said conservative Rep. Jim Jordan, who founded the House Freedom Caucus.
But Jordan didn’t bite when asked if GOP leadership would have to pay the price if the party loses the House this year.
“We’ve never been afraid of pushing but we feel the midterms are going to go well for our party,” he said.
The president’s speech was also filled with meaty lines designed to appeal to the conservative crowd.
He also did a little self-mocking, to the crowd’s delight.
“What a nice picture that is, look at that. I’d love to watch that guy speak,” the president joked in reference to the screens in the room projecting his image. He then did a 360-turn on the stage and put his hands up to his hair – as if he were styling it.
“I try like hell to hide that bald spot folks. I work hard.”
ABC News' Jordyn Phelps contributed to this story.