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 ClintonSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants MORE.

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"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.