Democrats use Trump as bogeyman to get people to vote

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Democratic Party activists in some U.S. states are using Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who has stirred controversy with his comments about illegal immigrants and women, as the centerpiece of their "get out the vote" campaign for the November elections.

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In California, canvassers from the Orange County Democrats carry pictures of Trump when they knock on doors ahead of the June 7 California primary. They ask if people will vote in the primary, and warn that if they don't help pick the strongest possible Democrat, "this guy will win," said Henry Vandermeir, the local party chairman in Orange County, a traditionally Republican island in the state.

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Democrats use Trump as bogeyman to get people to vote
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads the lyrics of Al Wilson's song "The Snake" during campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reads the lyrics of Al Wilson's song "The Snake" during campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listen during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on stage during campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a sign during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on stage during campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump takes a photo during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points to supporters after a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A man reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Trump speaks on stage during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016 REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump cheer during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a sign during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points during a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Ivanka Trump, daughter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, introduces her father at a campaign rally in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Supporters of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wait for campaign event to begin at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stands with a walker in front of portable toilets before a campaign event at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A tattoo is seen on an attendee during a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees wait for the start of a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees wait for the start of a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Security guards escort a protester from a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An attendee wears an American flag at a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Security guards escort a protester from the start of a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees wait for the start of a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: A supporter holds a up a book by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump prior to a campaign rally on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, center right, waves to attendees during a campaign event in Bethpage, New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Texas Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Supporters pose for a picture prior to a campaign rally for Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Supporters gather for Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump prior to a campaign rally on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Supporters cheer during a rally for Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: A Trump supporter holds up a 'White Lives Matter' sign during a rally for Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
Supporters await the arrival of US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally in Bethpage Long Island, New York on April 6, 2016. Trump looks to bounce back from his unsettling presidential primary los in Wisconsin, training his sights in the next White House contests on friendlier ground -- his home state of New York. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump interacts with supporters following a campaign rally on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
BETHPAGE, NEW YORK - APRIL 06: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on April 6, 2016 in Bethpage, New York. The rally comes ahead of the April 15 New York primary. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a rally in Bethpage, Long Island, New York on April 6, 2016. Trump looks to bounce back from his unsettling presidential primary los in Wisconsin, training his sights in the next White House contests on friendlier ground -- his home state of New York. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Donald Trump supporters yell toward people protesting Trump near the site of a campaign appearance by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Bethpage, New York, Wednesday, April 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in Bethpage, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a sign handed to him by a supporter after speaking at a campaign rally, Wednesday, April 6, 2016, in Bethpage, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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Democrats in New Hampshire have unveiled Trump/Sununu lawn signs, looking to tie Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on issues such as climate change (Trump is a skeptic) and healthcare.

One sign reads: "Trump/Sununu. Because Health Care Is For Losers," a swipe at Trump's vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

"Every state party is trying to maximize what they can get out of this difference (between candidates) and to tie Trump to the Republicans in the state," said Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

To be sure, Republicans appear likely to use Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination who is also a polarizing figure, in a similar fashion.

"There is no better volunteer recruitment tool, fundraising pitch, or unifier for the Republican Party than the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency that will surely take us further backwards," the Republican National Committee said in a statement.

Scenes from the New York primary:

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2016 Election: Scenes from New York primary (Clinton, Trump)
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Democrats use Trump as bogeyman to get people to vote
MANHATTAN, NY - Winning the New York primary, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a packed room of supporters during the victory party at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York on Tuesday April 19 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NY - On New York state primary night, supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cheer watching the primary results during the Hillary Victory Party at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York on Tuesday April 19 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NY - Winning the New York primary, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a packed room of supporters during the victory party at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York on Tuesday April 19 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NY - Winning the New York primary, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a packed room of supporters during the victory party at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York on Tuesday April 19 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NY - Winning the New York primary, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to a packed room of supporters during the victory party at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York on Tuesday April 19 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NY - On New York state primary night, supporters of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton watch the primary results and enjoy the party during the Hillary Victory Party at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York on Tuesday April 19 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Dupporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton snap cell phone pictures of her as she enters a victory party after winning the New York state primary election, Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton celebrate at her New York primary campaign headquarters, Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacts as she arrives onstage at her New York presidential primary night rally in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., April 19, 2016. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Members of the media await the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to a New York primary night event Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks following victory in the New York state primary on April 19, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump scored a crucial victory in the Republican primary in his home state of New York on April 19, advancing his bid to clinch the party's presidential nomination, US networks projected. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures after speaking in New York on April 19, 2016. Donald Trump scored a crucial victory in the Republican primary in his home state of New York on April 19, advancing his bid to clinch the party's presidential nomination, US networks projected. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump speakS at a campaign press conference moments after winning the republican presidential primary at Trump Tower in New York, NY on Tuesday April 19, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up following victory in the New York state primary on April 19, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump scored a crucial victory in the Republican primary in his home state of New York on April 19, advancing his bid to clinch the party's presidential nomination, US networks projected. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump's granddaughter Arabella (L), daughter Ivanka (C) and wife Melania (R) listen to him speak at his New York presidential primary night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 19, 2016. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
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"RETRUMPLICANS"

Democrats are also looking to tie Trump to Republican Senate candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot as they seek to regain control of the chamber they lost in the 2014 congressional elections.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last week released so-called "Trump cards" online, equating several Republican senators' policy positions with those of the New York developer.

For Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, for example, the DSCC highlighted how they and Trump oppose a federal minimum wage hike.

The DSCC also launched a website in March, partyoftrump.com, which labeled some senators "Retrumplicans" and asked for donations to help fight senators who support Trump.

Recent polls suggest that a Trump/Clinton matchup could be a tight race. The two candidates were in a dead heat in the three key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania in a Quinnipiac University poll earlier in May.

And a Reuters poll this month showed that much of the backing for Clinton and Trump comes from people whose primary motivation is to stop the other side from winning, rather than any love for either of the two candidates or their policies.

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The strategy of highlighting opposing candidates is not without risks, according to Bruce Newman, the author of "The Marketing Revolution in Politics: What Recent U.S. Presidential Campaigns Can Teach Us About Effective Marketing."

If Trump - who shocked pundits by beating 16 other Republican hopefuls for the nomination - proves more attractive to the general electorate than Hillary Clinton, then tying him to other Republicans could hurt Democrats

"We don't know how popular this guy is going to get," Newman said. "This is just the beginning."

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