McCain rules out 'boots on the ground' in Syria

But McCain did call for the international community to act quickly. “There's a lot of things that can be done, and we should be doing them and quickly while these people are dying in the street," he said.

McCain warned that the violence within the country was worsening with “reports Iranians are coming in to help massacre the Syrian people.”

“There are a lot of consequences from the overthrow of Assad," he said. "That's why the Iranians are very, very involved, becoming more involved.”

McCain endorsed a proposal floated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday for the creation of a formal grouping of nations to act in concert with opposition groups in Syria working to overthrow Assad.

He called on the Obama administration to explore efforts “to get weapons in to these people.” 

But McCain, who backed U.S. involvement in NATO-led efforts to aid Libyan rebels seeking the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, dismissed suggestions that Syria was similar to that effort.

“In Libya, they had a base in Benghazi,” said McCain of the Libyan opposition. In Syria, he said, there was “no real” geographic center for anti-Assad forces.

The senator also blasted Russia and China for blocking a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have backed an Arab League plan to ease Assad’s departure.

McCain took aim at the president’s claim that he had improved relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We’ve got to keep pushing the reset button,” he said, accusing Putin of “lashing out” at the West.

“The Arab Spring is coming to Russia,” he said of recent protests in the country that have been critical of Putin’s government.