Barack Obama has packed his overseas trip with presidential images: a helicopter ride over Iraq with the U.S. military commander; a visit to a Holocaust memorial; a meeting at Afghan President Hamid Karzai's palace.
He even found time to sink a three-point basketball shot before cheering U.S. soldiers.
His most memorable picture of the week was riding a golf cart with former President George Bush at Bush's Kennebunkport vacation home in Maine.
If the image campaign means anything, it's been a tough week for the Republican presidential candidate.
"It's not even a close call," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "This week at least, it looks like incumbent President Obama running against challenger Bob Dole. That's exactly what it looks like, the future versus the past."
CNN cut away Wednesday from live coverage of McCain's town meeting in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to cover Obama's news conference in Israel (although it later showed McCain highlights). MSNBC and Fox News Channel briefly showed pictures of McCain's meeting but didn't stay to hear what he had to say, and covered Obama in full.
The TV executives made that decision even though Obama's trip has raised the issue of whether the news media is giving a disproportionate amount of attention to the Democrat. McCain's campaign on Tuesday released a video mocking a media love-in with Obama.
Symbolism at every stop
Obama has traveled like a president, ferrying aides and reporters to the Middle East in a white 757 charter plane that displays the motto "Change We Can Believe In." He brought along a large group of aides, including campaign strategist David Axelrod.
The overseas trip was designed to hold meetings with people "who I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to 10 years," said Obama.
Every stop seemed designed with symbolism in mind. He lit a memorial flame at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and stopped at a house under reconstruction after it was hit by Hamas rockets. He met with both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and heard Israeli President Shimon Peres say "God bless you."
"If it continues to go well, Obama has passed a certain presidential threshold," Sabato said. "It's just been perfect. He's even been in Oval Office-like chairs. It has helped him. I think that image will linger."
This week it's simply impossible for McCain to compete, he said.
But Sabato noted the calendar — it's still July. There are many more campaign images to come. CBS News' Jeff Greenfield said he "has a certain skepticism about whether these pictures in July are going to mean much in November."
Obama's confident basketball shot — the only real image that couldn't be planned ahead — may be nice, but will it be forgotten as quickly as his sorry attempts at bowling?
A week like this is probably most important in the eyes of each campaign's supporters, particularly for McCain, Greenfield said.
"It can encourage grumbling, it can encourage backbiting and it could have an effect on fundraising," he said.