UPDATE 1:24 p.m. EDT: While Obama may have said, "I don't rule anything out," a senior administration official told CNN's Jim Acosta that the president isn't considering ground troops in Iraq.
"No boots on the ground. Not being considered," the official said.
The U.S. is considering taking unspecified military action in Iraq as an al Qaeda offshoot seizes control of much of the north of the country and advances toward Baghdad.
According to the Telegraph, President Barack Obama told reporters Thursday, “I don’t rule anything out,” when it comes to assisting the Iraqi government as it struggles to contain the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The remarks come a day after the New York Times reported that Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki secretly requested U.S. airstrikes against militants last month.
Obama’s comments came shortly after U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked for intervention in Iraq and called on the president to dismantle his national security team, which McCain called “a total failure” during a speech on the Senate floor.
McCain said he favored airstrikes against insurgents but was against putting American troops back on the ground in Iraq.
“Just because you say a war has ended, doesn’t mean it’s over,” the senator said in a swipe to Obama, who acted on his campaign promise to get U.S. troops home from Iraq in 2011.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close McCain ally, also advocated military action. He said he would approve of targeted air strikes if that's what military leaders say is the best option.
Obama also faced criticism from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who accused him of “taking a nap” as Iraq descended into chaos this week.
"It's not like we haven't seen this problem coming for over a year," Boehner said of jihadists getting a foothold in Iraq, according to the Washington Post. “They're 100 miles from Baghdad, and what's the president doing? Taking a nap."
However, Boehner wouldn’t say whether he favored airstrikes, saying he didn’t have enough information to urge a specific military plan.
Among the military options are drone strikes in support of Iraqi forces, a senior Pentagon official told the Associated Press.