Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Sunday slammed Republicans who have complained about an executive order he signed extending the right to vote in his state to convicted felons who have served their sentences.

"Well, I would tell the Republicans, 'Quit complaining and go out and earn these folks' right to vote for you. Go out and talk to them,' " he said in response to a question about people saying his order was an election-year ploy to help Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGorsuch rejects Minnesota Republican's request to delay House race Biden leads Trump by 6 points in Nevada: poll The Memo: Women could cost Trump reelection MORE.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I think some of the language that has come out of the Republicans, I would tell them to be very careful at how they frame this, very careful of their rhetoric."

McAuliffe is a longtime ally of Clinton and served as a chairman of her campaign in 2008.

"I told folks when I ran for governor, I will be a brick wall to protect your rights for women. I will protect the rights of LGBT members, and I'll do everything I can to get disenfranchised voters entrenched," he said.

"So I've done that. It's exactly what I talked about. Our economy is booming. I just announced a 4 percent unemployment, biggest budget surplus in Virginia history. We put $1 billion in education. It works when you welcome people back into society and make them feel good about themselves."

Clinton last week praised the Virginia governor for signing an executive order to extend voting rights to more than 200,000 convicted felons.

The order allows felons who have served their prison time and finished parole to register to vote. It reverses a Civil War-era provision in Virginia's Constitution.