Trump also stirred up the crowd with a veiled reference to Sen. "They'll take away your Second Amendment, which we would never allow to happen". Trump asked. "The Second Amendment or tax cuts?"
Yet after an emotionally draining week following the Florida high school mass shooting, Trump also must decide how far, if at all, he will stray from a key CPAC ideological tenet: protecting the Second Amendment from any gun-control legislation.
"I don't want to be controversial so I won't use his name", Trump said of McCain. "Because I had five people outside say, 'Could you do The Snake?'". Departing the White House for CPAC, Trump told reporters that "when it came time to get in there and do something", Florida deputy Scot Peterson "didn't have the courage or something happened". "Together, we're hanging in".
In a fiery speech to the group Thursday, National Rifle Association President Wayne La Pierre drew that line deeply in the ground as he chastised "the break back speed of calls for more gun control laws and the breathless national media eager to smear the NRA".
"I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks", he was cited as saying.
Trump bragged about the recent record stock market climb, boasted that he has fulfilled more campaign promises than any other President and encouraged Republicans to hit the polls for the midterm elections. Trump reiterated his campaign pledge to build a wall along the U.S.
Trump said Democrats, who he called "crazed", are no longer interested in talking about the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals immigration program.
The largest annual gathering of conservatives has all the looks of a Trump festival, with Republican critics absent from the event outside the nation's capital. "You just won, and now you're happy and you're complacent", he said.
Some conservatives expressed dismay at CPAC's embrace of Trump.
Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, said Pence's efforts amounted to a "pep rally" for potentially unmotivated conservatives.
"We are going to look at that whole military base gun-free zone", Trump said.
Opening his speech Friday, Trump touted accomplishments, despite what he said was skepticism about his conservative bona fides.
He said that "gun adept members of staff within the school" could make up between 20-30% of the faculty, but offered no concrete evidence that could prove this.