Trump reassured supporters that those who had been infected were doing well, and that everything would turn out for the best, though he did not acknowledge the first death from the fast-spreading virus. Trump even briefly sought to play the role of political peacemaker.

“Many of them are in good shape right now and they are better in going home,” Trump said. “It’s time for all Americans to put politics aside and to come together to work for the health, safety and security of the American people… we have to make it nonpartisan, if we can.”

Trump, who initially downplayed the coronavirus outbreak a month ago, and offered a haphazard response as cases began emerging in the U.S, had drawn heat Friday when he argued Democrats’ criticisms of his actions were meant to send the stock market plummeting and undermine his reelection bid. “The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” he claimed.

On Saturday, Trump did not say the word “hoax” when he spoke about the coronavirus, though even his call for nonpartisanship didn’t last long. He took swipes at “Nervous Nancy,” and “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer” and other Democrats who criticized his response to the epidemic.

“Everything is really under control, but when they put a mic in front of a Democrat and the Democrats say, doesn’t even know what’s going on, how is Trump doing, he’s doing a terrible job. Well, sadly I’d probably say the same about them,” he said. “You know. I guess it’s a natural reflex.”

Trump didn’t linger on the coronavirus, and he soon deployed a familiar arsenal against his enemies, hitting on several topics that he often mentions in campaign speeches.

Switching between the teleprompter and off-the-cuff remarks, Trump touted a strong economy, the assassination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his new deal with the Taliban to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. He attacked foes like Sen. Mitt Romney, “Crazy” Bernie Sanders, “Mini” Mike Bloomberg, the Washington establishment and the media.

CPAC is a comfortable venue for Trump, one where he’d spoken years before he ran for president. Playing to the friendly crowd, he heaped praise on American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, as well as wounded warriors and Conan, the hero dog present at al-Baghdadi’s assassination. “Conan actually, Conan was given more press than your president,” he said to laughter.

All told, Trump presented a hopeful outlook when it came the coronavirus epidemic, just one minor blip for the public and his political prospects. It was a stark difference from how his allies and surrogates had discussed the issue earlier this week at CPAC — explicitly accusing the media and the Democrats of trying to hype up the coronavirus threat to sabotage Trump.

“The press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the president,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on Friday. “The reason you’re seeing so much attention to [the coronavirus] today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That’s what this is all about.”

Previewing the shift, Trump insisted earlier in the day that he had never viewed the issue as a hoax, despite his previous comments.

“No, no, no hoax,” Trump said at a rare White House press briefing when asked if he regretted using the word on Friday. “Whether it’s the impeachment hoax or the ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ hoax. This is what I’m talking about. Certainly not referring to this. How could anybody refer to this? This is very serious.”