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Story highlights

"The GOP is the party of Abraham Lincoln," Trump said

The call continued an effort in recent days by Trump to appeal to black voters

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump acknowledged Saturday that the Republican Party “must do better” in appealing to African-Americans.

But in the same speech here, he again slammed an order by the state’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, to restore voting rights to some convicted felons who have completed their sentences, a move McAuliffe says could help African-Americans who were disproportionally affected by laws that put lifetime bans on felons.

“The GOP is the party of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said. “I want our party to be the home of the African-American voter once again.”

He continued: “I’ve asked the African-American community to honor me with their vote,” adding that he “fully recognize(s) the outreach to the African-American community is an area where the Republican Party must do better.”

Trump and African-Americans: A history

The call continued an effort in recent days by Trump to appeal to black voters. On Friday, Trump described an African-American community beset by crumbling inner cities, failing schools and high unemployment, and suggested that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have taken the black vote for granted while doing nothing to help the community.

“What the hell do you have to lose?” said Trump, asking for black voters’ support.

Yet on Saturday, Trump – who has publicly raised the specter of a “rigged” election in recent weeks as polls have shown him trailing Clinton – ripped McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton friend and ally, for his decision earlier this year to restore voting rights to thousands of convicted felons.

McAuliffe’s order – which he said in May was intended to lift “a policy of disenfranchisement that has been used intentionally to suppress the voices of qualified voters, particularly African-Americans, for more than a century” – was struck down by the state Supreme Court last month. But The Washington Post reported Saturday that he will announce next week the restoration of voting rights to 13,000 felons via executive order, and lay out his plan to ultimately restore the rights of more than 200,000 felons.

In April, shortly after McAuliffe issued his original order, Trump called the move “crooked politics.”

And on Saturday, he again alleged that McAuliffe’s decision was aimed at increasing Democratic votes in Virginia, a swing state.

“Hillary Clinton is banking on her friend Terry McAuliffe on getting thousands of violent felons to the voting booths in effort to cancel out the votes of both law enforcement and crime victims,” Trump said as the audience booed. “They are letting people vote in your Virginia election that should not be allowed to vote. Sad. So Sad.”