Speaking at a campaign event at Washington-Lee High School ahead of Tuesday's election, Obama lauded McAuliffe's lengthy and successful business background, noting he started a driveway-paving venture when he was just 14 years old.
"This is a man who knows how to work and he knows how to push through obstacles, and he cares deeply about the opportunities that this country has given him, and he wants to make sure that those opportunities are there for everybody -- not just for a few," Obama said. "He knows what it's like to work hard and struggle to get ahead.
"And when it comes to creating good jobs, when it comes to investing in education, when it comes to giving more Virginians the opportunities that they deserve, Terry understands what folks are going through."
McAuliffe, a businessman and former Democratic National Committee chairman, is running against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the state's attorney general, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis, a lawyer and businessman.
Incumbent Republican Bob McDonnell was not eligible to run again under the state's term limits.
Without mentioning him by name, Obama criticized Cuccinelli for supporting the recent federal government shutdown.
"... As Terry mentioned, his opponent says he's perfectly happy with it. Now he says it's in the rearview mirror," Obama said. "Well, it can't be in the rearview mirror if this is your operative theory of politics. If you embrace the very politics that led to this shutdown, then I guarantee it's not in the rearview mirror of voters in Virginia. They understand that that is not how you govern and that is not how you move America forward. consequences when you operate this way."
Obama praised McAuliffe for calling on U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, "to stand up to the Tea Party, reopen the government so Virginians could go back to work."
"He stood up for you. Instead of joining him, Terry's opponent sided with the people who would rather hurt folks to make a point. Rather than back down, Terry's opponent doubled down," the president said.
Obama also noted many Republicans "are stepping up in this race and saying, Terry McAuliffe is the right man for the job."
"They understand that the job of governor is not tearing stuff down; it is building folks up, building communities up, moving forward, bringing people together. And they know that Terry can do that," Obama said.