“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 Clinton.

“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.