Republicans shouldn't engage in personal attacks against President Obama or other Democrats on the campaign trail, a top House Republican said Wednesday.

Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) pressed his party to attack ideas with which they disagree, but to avoid attacking opponents during an election cycle that has been noted for its heated rhetoric.

"I don't think that we should engage in personal attacks against either the president of the United States or candidates for office," Pence told the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody in a full interview posted online on Wednesday. (Some separate excerpts had been released previously.)

That might be a new standard for some incumbents and candidates on both sides of the aisle if Pence's imploring words stick.

The third-ranking House Republican had himself drawn scrutiny from Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) earlier this year after Pence's office released a report calling Dodd a "Friend of Angelo," referencing the Countrywide mortgage program from which Dodd had allegedly benefited.

Pence has also aligned himself with the conservative Tea Party movement and is the highest-ranking House GOP lawmaker to join a caucus of the same name. Some, but not all, members of that grassroots movement have raised eyebrows for sharp rhetoric they've employed against Obama and congressional leaders.

Barbed rhetoric and personal attacks haven't exactly been limited to the GOP, however, and as the campaign season wears on until November, campaigns on both sides are almost certain to break out increasingly strident rhetoric against each other.

Pence said GOP attacks on Democrats' policies, by contrast, should be unforgiving.

"I think that we should vigorously attack the big-government liberal policies of this administration and this Congress that has set us on the pathway of government takeovers, of a mountain range of deficits and debt as far as the eye can see, higher taxes and an unemployment rate that remains fixed near a heartbreaking 10 percent," he said.