Due to an editing error, it was incorrectly implied in yesterday's editions that only union executives purchased tickets to a $1,000 a-couple fundraiser Saturday in Williamsburg for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Henry E. Howell, Numerous business executives, several of whom purchased $5,000 worth of tickets, also attended the event.

President Carter today embraced Democrat Henry E. Howell, called him "my personal friend," urged Virginians to forgive Howell for his indiscretions and asked them to elect him the state's next governor.

"It won't hurt that he's got a friend in the White House," Carter told an outdoor rally here in Howell's hometown. Carter added that he would "treat Virginia fairly no matter how the campaign goes." Nevertheless, in appearances here and in Roanoke and Williamsburg, Carter left no doubt about his enthusiasitc support for Howell, the first major Virginia politician to endorse his bid for the presidency last year.

Howell may be "sometimes . . . indiscreet" and may "create controversy," Carter told a midday Howell rally in Roanoke, on the edge of Virgini's Blue Ridge Mountains. "But as far as I can see as a politician, that is not anything to be ashamed of."

In speeches that sounded as if they were drafted by Howell's staff, Carter repeatedly attacked Republican Lt. Gov. John N. Dalton - without naming him - on issues that Howell has claimed are central in his third race for governor.

Invoking memories of the campaign speeches be made on Howell's behalf four years ago when Carter was a little-known Georgia governor, the President pleaded with Virginians to elect Howell because "he is a man who cares about you personally."

Howell, 57, beamed and nodded with approval as Carter attacked Dalton in Roanoke for refusing to disclose either his net worth or his income tax returns and for backing out of a scheduled television debate and other joint appearances with Howell. At the same time he praised Howell as a fiscal conservative, a friend of "business, balanced budgets and no tax increases."

At one point in his speech before an estimated 10,300 people in a Roanake coliseum, Carter appeared to be taking a cue from an old Howell charge and blamed "distorted news reports" for Howell's narrow 1973 loss to Republican Gov. Mills E. Godwin. "But now is the year to correct that mistake and put him (Howell) into the office," Carter said.

He was apparently referring to Howell's 1973 charge that a report broadcast by NBC news the morning of the election that he favored school busing cost him the election.

The President seemed buoyed at times by Howell's campaign sytle, which Howell didn't alter a bit before the national media. "Hey, there's the President of the United States," Howell shouted at Carter as the President stepped from a small Air Force passenger jet that took him to the Roanoke Municipal Airport. "God bless you," Howell told the President clasping his hand.

"Get a hug," Howell then instructed his wife, Betty. "Get a hug for the Prez...a good hug for the Prez."

Mrs. Howell did embrace the President but not until after Howell pinned a red "I Believe in Henry Howell" button in Carter's lapel and thrust a multicolored bumper sticker for his "rainbow ticket" at the President.

In Roanoke, 30 miles from Dalton's hometown of Radford, Carter leveled his harshest words at the Republican gubernatorial nominee. In Norfolk, where a crowd of 4,000 showed up in thr Piney Groves amphitheater next to the city's airport, Carter lavished praise on Howell's two running mates, neither of whom is expected to run as well in this area as Howell.

After having praised Howell in Roanoke for his efforts to end the state's policy of massive resistance to public school integration, the Presient praised the Democratic nominee for attorney general, Edward E. Lane, who supported massive resistance as a state legislator 15 years ago.

Lane, whose refusal to disavow the policies of massive resistance has placed him in trouble with black voting groups around the state, has shown he is willing to exhibit "fairness to all people" as attorney general, Carter said.

Carter said the third member of the Howell ticket, McLean lawyer Charles S. (Chuck) Robb, has "quite different" qualifications to be the state's lieutenant governor and noted that Robb had "married into a great family," a reference to his marriage to the daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

With Robb as the state's second-ranking officer, "you wouldn't have to worry about Chuck Robb and Henry Howell disagreeing on major issues," the President said in Norfolk. Carter did not make a similar statement about Howell and Lane. Lane is considered the most conservative member of the Democratic ticket, and its name - the Rainbow ticket - stems from the extremely wide range of philosophies held by the candidates.

In Norfolk, Carter also hammered at one of Howell's favorite themes in the populous Hampton-Road area: utility costs. "If Virginia has had one failing, it's that Virginia has not given enough attention to the interests of consumers," Carter said. There and in Roanoke, the President attacked the state's automatic fuel-adjustment clause, which allows utilities to pass onto consumers the higher cost of fuels that they purchase to produce electricity.

"That ought to be changed," Carter said in Roanoke. 'It's just a matter of fairness. It's just a matter of justice."

Without ever mentioning Dalton by name the President attacked his refusal to disclose details of his wealth. " . . . There was a time when it was not ordinarily expected that a public servant for governor or president would reveal financial holdings," he said. "These days it is different."

Dalton, who spent the day campaigning in the fare southwest corner of the state, has refused to release details of his wealth, although he acknowledge that he is worth several million dollars. This past week he abruptly canceled plans for future appearances with Howell, saying he could no longer tolerate Howell's charges. He said the charges were irresponsible and included an accusation that some of Dalton's campaign literature was like Nazi propaganda.

Carter capped his day in Virginia by helping to draw almost 400 people to a $1,000-a-couple fund-raising dinner in Williamsburg that will net the campaign at least $115,000. About 300 paying guests attended after a last-minute demand for tickets.

Carter departed from his prepared text to say, 'I am not trying to tell the Virginia people how to vote. I respect your independence ... but in trusting that judgment I know you will make the right decision."

Otherwise, Carter's remarks were largely the same ones he made earlier in the day.

Guests at tonight's dinner ranged from union executives, who bought $5,000 worth of tickets, to 83-year-old Kate Heil, who was admitted free because her son is on Howell's campaign staff. Political figures such as former Sen. William B. Spong, who acted as master of ceremonies, and former Congressman Tom Downing and numerous state legislators attended.

"This is the most successful Democratic fund raiser ever held in the state of Virginia," said Howell campaing manager William Rosenthal.