(CNN) - Is this month's fighting in the Republic of Georgia John McCain's moment?
The Republicans' presumptive presidential nominee is certainly acting as if it is: a major international crisis that could be just what John McCain needs to highlight his strengths.
McCain has talked tough from the outset of the crisis.
"Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory," the Arizona senator said Friday.
Initially, Barack Obama's tone was more measured.
"I think it is important at this point for all sides to show restraint and to stop this armed conflict," the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee said on Friday.
After he spoke to the Georgian President, Obama's tone got stronger.
"No matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over south Ossetia," the Illinois senator said Monday.
Last month, a ABC News-Washington Post poll showed Obama and McCain were equally trusted to handle international affairs. But McCain had the edge on handling an unexpected major crisis - like, presumably, the one in Georgia.
And McCain's supporters are making the most of it.
"We've just seen over the last few days as the Russians invaded a sovereign nation, Georgia, and watched the response of this man, John McCain, to that crisis: right, strong, clear, principled - the kind of president we need in the White House," said Senator Joe Lieberman, who joined McCain at a campaign event Tuesday.
At a town hall in Pennsylvania Tuesday that drew an unusually large turnout, McCain talked about the relevance of the crisis to Americans.
"There's a pipeline, an oil pipeline," said McCain, "which brings oil from the Caspian to points west and traverses Georgia. That's the very pipeline that the Russians tried to bomb."
He played to the emotions when he recounted his remarks to the President of Georgia.
"I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, `Today, we are all Georgians."
His tone on local radio in Pennsylvania was ominous.
"I think it's very clear that Russian ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire."
That's a message McCain has been saying for months.
Some voters may worry: does he want to start a new Cold War? The risk for McCain is that he could overplay the issue, and frighten war-weary voters whose priorities right now lie closer to home.