Christopher Edley and Maria Echaveste, a married couple who met while serving in the Clinton administration, have actually started debating each other. Not just at their kitchen table, but in front of audiences across California and on television.
“It’s not easy,” Ms. Echaveste, who is a paid consultant to Mrs. Clinton, said in a joint telephone interview with her husband, who advises Mr. Obama. “You’re having a discussion and your husband is basically saying that your candidate doesn’t have a moral compass.”
With that, Mr. Edley broke in. “Or your wife is saying that your candidate isn’t smart enough to figure out where the bathrooms are,” he said.
“I never said that,” she replied.
The couple has relived some of the campaign’s most rancorous moments, such as when Ms. Echaveste, echoing Bill Clinton, told her husband that Mr. Obama was “naïve.” The word conjured up racial stereotypes for Mr. Edley, who is black, and has known Mr. Obama since he taught him in law school. “There’s the childlike Negro,” he explained. “There is the superficial but glib minstrel.”
Ms. Echaveste, who is Hispanic, now understands why her husband exploded in response. “Regardless of being dean of a law school” — at the University of California, Berkeley, where both teach — “he’s still in a box called being a black man,” she said. Still, she said, “I ought to be able to make that point and not trigger these reactions.”
And with that, Mr. Edley responded, his wife countered, and they started to debate once more.