Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) on Sunday cautioned against the Egyptian protests turning into a deadly crackdown like the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in China.

"We cannot afford a Tiananmen Square in Cairo," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I think one of the lessons here is that we need to be on the right side of history in these countries," he said of the unfolding political crisis in what is not only a U.S. ally but a cultural center of the world.

"Every time we've been on the right side of history it's usually turned out OK," McCain said.

President Hosni Mubarak, he said, needs to lay out a plan to lift the state of emergency in the country and "allow an open and free democratic process."

"It's fraught with danger," McCain stressed, noting the potential influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran in the process.

"But there's also a chance for a real functioning democracy in arguably the most important country in the Middle East," he said. "You cannot have autocratic or repressive regimes last forever."

When asked whether cutting the $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt is a leveraging option, the senator said, "I think we have to say that everything is on the table."

Acknowledging that "there's all kinds of bad scenarios here," McCain said he hoped the time between now and the previously scheduled September presidential elections in Egypt would see the "rise of political parties" and be a "model for the rest of the region."

"The longer this unrest, the more likely the radicals see openings to take power," he said. "[It's] the Lenin scenario."