PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Hillary Clinton’s campaign brought star power to New Hampshire on Friday as actress and author Lena Dunham and soccer champion Abby Wambach hit multiple venues across the state to urge those gathered – mostly young women – to turn out to vote for Clinton in the first-in-the-nation primary.
It was a non-typical political event, bringing together pop culture with politics. Set in a hip restaurant in Portsmouth called “Street,” with sparkly lights and bright colors and paintings splashed around the walls, Dunham and Wambach stood on a platform in the middle of the room and looked over a sea of cell phone cameras and the smiling faces of fans eager to get a glimpse of their heroes from television. Wambach charged up the audience with group chants of “I believe that she will win!” as the audience stood and cheered the packed food joint.
Speaking to the crowd of more than 100, both stars weren’t afraid to talk about the role of gender in their careers and in their choice to support Clinton for president.
“It’s time people. It’s time for women to be seen as real equals,” Wambach, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer champion, told the crowd as she tried to rev them up to get involved. “If we can have the leader of our country be a woman, we will be setting ourselves up for real true equality.”
“Although Hillary Clinton's anatomy is not the reason I’m voting for her, I do believe that nothing can send a stronger message to this country and the world at large, than electing a competent, strong, essential woman to the highest office that we have,” said Dunham, an actress and activist known best for her role as creator, writer, and star of HBO’s “Girls.”
“I feel so frustrated having to continuously explain that I’m an intelligent and engaged citizen and it’s not a fact I should have to state time and time again just to defend my voting for someone who happens to be female,” Dunham said. “Therefore my support of Hillary Clinton is born of careful consideration of her policies, positions, track record and yes, her pantsuits.”
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also joined and asked the crowd to volunteer and sign up their friends as supporters. The Clinton campaign was able to use this venue to log the names of attendees who showed up and register numerous volunteers for work with the campaign in the last month before the primary.
Both Bernie Sanders and Clinton are neck-and-neck in the state that holds the second contest of the Democratic presidential primary. Sanders holds a slight 2.5 point edge over Clinton here in the most recent Real Clear Politics average.
Rebecca Scheinberg of Portsmouth called herself a “huge fan of Lena Dunham” and said seeing both Dunham and Wambach together “got me a little shaky with excitement.” Friday’s event helped move her closer in the direction of supporting Clinton for president.
“In New Hampshire there is a lot of talk about Bernie Sanders so I just wanted to get as much information as I could about both and I’m feeling very strongly after hearing them speak about the issues, for Hillary Clinton,” she said.
Scheinberg has already seen Sanders speak, is planning on seeing Chelsea Clinton next week, and hoping to see Hillary Clinton before the primary.
Cyrstal Paradis of Portsmouth was undecided a few months ago, but after seeing both Sanders and Clinton a few times, and meeting Clinton at a town hall in Exeter, she decided to start volunteering for Clinton’s campaign. But these kinds of events do help Clinton reach out to a broader group than will typically show up at a political town hall, she said.
“The more people hear from really smart other people that have made their decision and hear the reasons why, it definitely helps people make up their mind,” she said. “I think this probably helps draw a different type of crowd out.”
Dunham acknowledged that she can play a role in helping the campaign expand beyond the usual crowd that attends political events. “Politics aren’t just for people who've never made a mistake or never made an inappropriate joke in front of a child or never missed an episode of Meet the Press,” she said. “Politics are for all of us.”