"I think that women should not be forced to constantly answer for the rhetoric around their husband's lives," Lena Dunham tells PEOPLE

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall
Updated January 08, 2016 05:40 PM
Advertisement
Image
Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage; Scott Eisen/Getty

Hillary Clinton has firmly refused to address Donald Trump‘s talk of her husband Bill Clinton‘s past infidelity. And feminist actor-writer Lena Dunham firmly believes the former secretary of state shouldn’t have to.

“I think that women should not be forced to constantly answer for the rhetoric around their husband’s lives,” Dunham, 29, tells PEOPLE in a phone interview from New Hampshire as the creator and star of HBO’s Girls made her campaign trail debut Friday for Clinton.

“It’s really important to view Hillary as an independent candidate and as a person who has her own really interesting and beautiful track record of supporting and protecting women. While she’s clearly very connected to her husband, it’s fully her that I’m so excited to be talking about.”

So excited, in fact, that the first-time “stumper,” as she memorably put it in a Tweet announcing that she was enlisting with the campaign, enthused about even the mundanities of the stump. As she was being driven from Portsmouth to her second event in Manchester, Dunham reveled in having her best friend Audrey Gelman along and her sister, Grace, meeting up with them later.

“I’m into it! We got some veggie burgers, we’re in the car, we’re looking at snow. And I love the fact that I’m being driven by campaign staffers and I’m seeing what a deeply grassroots effort this is. I’m literally being traded off across the state by cool, rad women drivers.”

The campaign trail lifestyle is not too unlike life on the Girls set, she adds.

“The amount of time I spend, like, squatting in back of a minivan eating Doritos and yelling at someone through a walkie-talkie this doesn’t feel as unnatural as I might have thought.”

And she made sure that costume changes would be part of Friday’s drill, too, lugging along three different outfits she described as “patriotic and Hillary-thematic.”

“I saw that Katy Perry wore two very awesome Hillary-themed dresses. So, after that, we all have to keep our game high.” And, yes, that means a pantsuit. But not a pandering-to-Hillary pantsuit.

“I actually have quite a few pantsuits that are a real part of my wardrobe. A pantsuit is not alien to me.”

Dunham, who didn’t cast her first vote in any election until she was 22 (“It’s not a model,” she admits), says her most important message to women – whether like-minded Clinton supporters or yet-undecideds – is that voting is power.

“I’m here to give young women the sense that they can affirm and express their power through voting and engaging with the political process,” Dunham says, adding that it wasn’t until after being asked to do an ad for President Obama‘s 2012 reelection campaign that she really learned this for herself. “I started to think about politics as something I could engage in and that I didn’t have to be a political analyst or Harvard scholar to have an opinion on these things. That’s been a real life-changer.”

But not so much that she sees herself in political office.

“We should all know enough to never say never. But, that being said, just the way that I’ve experienced the media as a person who’s not running for office or a person who’s not attempting to be a public figure is so intense, I don’t think I have the constitution for that kind of attack mode. Which is why I so admire how tough and courageous Hillary has been in the face of that kind of negativity in the media.”

“And,” she added, “I really like my job.”