Updated, corrected

John McCain is leaving the campaign trail and heading to Washington D.C. to focus on the economic crisis — and he’s asking that Friday’s debate be postponed.

Here’s the non-political way of looking at this: Why wouldn’t he? The country is facing its worst downtown since the Great Depression, according to some experts, and McCain is a sitting senator.

Here’s the political way of looking at it: It gets the political press, which is obsessed with process, focusing on the fact that it is McCain who first issued this call, not Barack Obama. It’s a very inspired move, seizing attention and forcing Obama to react at a time when polls show McCain falling in stature when it comes to the economy. And it comes after today’s New York Times story that revealed that campaign manager Rick Davis’ consulting firm had been receving payments for work from Fannie Mae Freddie Mac. Obama now is forced into a corner — a position from which he does not do well. This won’t be lost on the political media covering both candidates on the trail — but it’s hard to call it a gimmick when McCain can easily point to the fact that the country’s economic health is at stake and he is merely doing the responsible thing.

McCain, by the way, has cancelled his appearance on “Late Show with David Letterman” tonight.

Update: The Obama campaign says that it initiated the first call.