John McCain is finally making noise in the White House race, after weeks of anemic photo ops, scattershot attacks and looking on as Democrat Barack Obama soaked up adulation and opinion poll leads.

In the fiercest combat of the general election so far, McCain tasted successive victories last week in the battle for daily news coverage, the political trench warfare which adds up to define a campaign.

He hopes voters will soon start to share his view of Obama as a talented, yet presumptuous pretender unprepared for the presidency.

McCain is betting that he can dim Obama’s so far remarkably resilient star power — and seems to be making preemptive bid to limit any ‘bounce’ his rival enjoys from his party convention in three weeks.

But one political giant — Hillary Clinton — has already tried such a strategy and failed, during the Democratic primary season when she branded Obama “a lot of talk, no action.”

McCain’s barrage opened with an ad using footage of Obama’s barnstorming European tour to compare him to troubled popular culture icons Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, the message: the Democrat is all show and no substance.

McCain’s campaign then set off a firestorm, accusing African American Obama of playing the ‘race card’ after he commented that Republicans will point out that he does not look like presidents memorialized on US currency.

Then McCain made headlines again with an ad mocking Obama as a Moses-like figure, which sarcastically asked “can you see the light?” suggesting his opponent had anointed himself to save the world.

“Senator Obama is an impressive orator, and it’s a lucky thing for me that people aren’t just choosing a motivational speaker,” he said in a radio address.

“Washington is full of talented talkers and Senator Obama is one of the best to come along in quite a while — unfortunately on issues big and small, what he says and what he does are often two different things.”

In an ABC television interview, McCain also accused Obama of opposing “a comprehensive energy plan” in the face of skyrocketing gas prices.

“It seems to me the only thing he wants us to do is inflate tires” to improve gas mileage, the Arizone senator argued.

Since Obama returned from Europe, the race appears to have tightened. The candidates were tied at 44 percent each in the latest Gallup tracking poll. A week ago, Obama was up by nine points.

Rasmussen had Obama up 43-44 percent in its tracking poll and survey in the next few weeks will be watched to see whether McCain’s hard line is damaging Obama — or himself.