Declaring "trust and credibility are important issues in this . . . campaign," Republican John N. Dalton today pictured his opponent for the Virginia governorship as an erratic double-talker attempting to cloak his true liberalism "behind a log of words."

Dalton, speaking at a campaign luncheon here, charged Democrat Henry Howell with promoting programs for which he knows the state has no funds, and of issuing contradictory statements about whether he favors a tax increase.

"I have worked hard to earn the trust of the people of Virginia," Dalton said. "And I believe any individual who seeks the trust of the people has a duty to live up to his philosophy and to make only promises that he can keep."

While saying, he did not "maintain that a public official can never change his mind" Dalton declared: "I do say that a public servant should not continually chop and change trimming his positions to meet political pressures. I submit this is a basic difference between me and my opponent in this . . . race."

Dalton, the state's current lieutenant governor said Howell had been quoted in a State Police magazine, for example as saying that collective bargaining for public employees was "a basic right."

But the GOP candidate said Howell later stated in an interview with the Roamaked Times that "there will be no unions bargaining for the 82,000 state employees during the four year of a Howell administration."

"It's hard to see how you can have collective bargaining without unions," Dalton said.

Dalton appeared with Gov. Mills E. Godwin at a luncheon of some 200 businessmen and women, many of them Democrats, from the Charlottesville Albemarle County area.

While many of those present were conservative Democrats frequently associated in the past with Republican campaigns, many others were longtime straight-ticker Democrats who described themselves as disenchanted with Howell.

Charlottesville, they explained, is the hometown of former U.S. Ambassador to Australia William C. Battle, who defeated Howell for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination eight years ago.

Many, they said, still believe that lukewarm support of battle by Howell led to Battle's general election defeat in 1969 by Republican Linwood Holton.

"These people have no love for Henry," explained one Republican. "If Andy Miller had won the Democratic nomination in June we couldn't have turned out 60 of these people for John Dalton. But they're here now. They remember 1969."

Among those present were former Seventh District Democratic chairman John W. Williams, who is now Seventh District chairman of Virginians for Dalton, and T. Munford Boyd, a University of Virginia law professor who in 1961 challenged the old Byrd Democratic organization in a race for the party nomination for attorney general.

Godwin in his remarks, praised Dalton as a "well-grounded" man whose "roots are deep in the kind of thinking and philosophy that has enabled Virginia to go forward."

He derided Howell as a candidate "wrapped in all the aroma . . . of liberalism . . . on almost every issue," who is now attempting to "hoodwink the people of Virginia into believing he's a conservative."

Godwin pictured Dalton as a vital bulwork against an increasingly liberal General Assembly which, he said, might pass a bill authorizing collective bargaining for public employees if Howell is elected.

Howell has "always run against the 'Big Boys' of big business . . . He's screamed that across this state," Godwin told is business-oriented audience. "I hate to think where the little boys would be if it weren't for a few big boys around. We need the big boys and we need the little boys both" if Virginia is to prosper, Godwin said.