McAuliffe, who previously served as the state's governor from 2014-2018, is running again for the position. He won the Democratic primary on Tuesday, besting four other candidates ahead of November's election.
The Democrat is now coming under fire due to a series of inaccurate statements he has made over the years regarding the state's budget. During his term as governor, McAuliffe repeatedly claimed that he "inherited a large deficit" of $2.4 billion from the previous Republican administration.
Independent fact-checker Politifact has rated his claims as "False" three separate times – twice in 2015 and most recently in 2019 – stating that it was not possible for the Democrat to inherit a deficit when Virginia's state constitution requires a balanced budget.
"No doubt, McAuliffe faced tough financial conditions. But he did not inherit a $2.4 billion deficit from Republicans, as he’s been saying for years. We rate his statement False," said Politifact.
However, during the first 48 hours after winning the Democratic primary earlier this week, McAuliffe repeated the false statement to MSNBC's Chuck Todd saying, "I inherited the largest deficit from Republicans," and also during an interview on Gray TV.
He reiterated the debunked claim in a tweet Thursday.
"I inherited the largest budget deficit in the history of the state from the Republicans," the tweet read. "In just four years, I turned it around and created a record number of jobs. I’ve led Virginia out of crisis before and I’m ready to do it again."
In 2004, while serving as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), McAuliffe told reporters that "someone who lies about the little things will lie about the big things too." He was referencing contradictory statements then-Vice President Dick Cheney made during his general election debate with John Edwards.
According to critics, his recent misleading statements reveal that he is not following his own advice about the dangers of lying.
Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson warned that if McAuliffe started his general election campaign by lying about inheriting a deficit, he will likely tell other lies to Virginians in order to get elected.
"If political insider Terry McAuliffe starts off the first day of the general election campaign by lying multiple times to Virginians, what lengths will he go to and what lies will he tell to get elected?" said Anderson.
"Glenn Youngkin is a political outsider that has laid out a vision to unify Virginians around a positive agenda, not lie to them like career politician Terry McAuliffe," the state GOP chairman continued in a press release.
In addition, political strategist Mike Young pointed out in a tweet that it is well known that Virginia has a balanced budget amendment. He said McAuliffe is either "clueless or lying."
McAuliffe's campaign responded to the criticism in an emailed statement to Fox News, saying that the budget left by the previous GOP administration did not have enough funds to cover operating expenses, which explains the "deficit."
"At the beginning of his time as governor, Terry McAuliffe faced a state budget prepared by his Republican predecessor that did not end up having enough revenue to cover the operating expenses. Not having enough revenues to cover expenses is the definition of a deficit," said Renzo Olivari, spokesperson for Terry for Virginia.
"Thanks to Terry's strong leadership, Virginia created 200,000 good-paying jobs, created 1,100 economic development projects, and increased personal income 14%. While Glenn Youngkin will deny hardworking Virginians a $15 [per] hour minimum wage, Terry will fight to increase it by 2024 and make sure our Commonwealth has the strongest post-COVID economy in the country."
The campaign did not respond to specific criticism saying that McAuliffe is lying and may do so again about larger issues in the future.
McAuliffe is facing Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin in the general election on Nov. 2. Youngkin, who secured the nomination last month, told Fox News that his campaign has "enormous momentum" and has labeled himself as a fresh face for Virginians.
The winner of Virginia's gubernatorial race will take sitting Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.