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SOTU Scoop
August 27th, 2014
05:02 PM ET

SOTU Scoop

By CNN's Tracey Webb

Your daily scoop of what State of the Union is watching today, August 27, 2014.

1. Steven Sotloff. The American journalist's mother made a plea to ISIS terrorists holding her son hostage. In a video broadcast on Al Arabiya Network, Shirley Sotloff spoke directly to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. "Steven is a journalist who traveled to the Middle East to cover the suffering of Muslims at the hands of tyrants," she said. Steven is a loyal and generous son, brother and grandson. He is an honorable man who has always tried to help the weak." Shirley Sotloff then appealed to al-Baghdadi's self-declared title of caliph of the Islamic State, telling him as caliph, he has the power to grant amnesty to her son. "I ask you to please release my child," she said. Steven Sotloff disappeared while reporting from Syria in August 2013. He was seen in the recent ISIS video showing the beheading of U.S. photojournalist James Foley.

2. American jihadists. U.S. officials say more than 100 Americans have tried to join militant fighters in Syria. One of them, Douglas McAuthur McCain, was recently killed while fighting for ISIS. The 33-year-old McCain was from Minnesota and converted to Islam about 10 years ago. It is unclear when he went to Syria, but U.S. law enforcement sources tell CNN that he had been identified as having possibly joined ISIS. An anti-ISIS Syrian group said another American was also killed, though it did not offer proof. The U.S. State Department says it can't confirm the death of a second American.

3. Could the third time be the charm for the former Republican presidential candidate? Mitt Romney says he has no plans for another White House bid, but new poll out of Iowa shows Romney would be the front runner for the 2016 GOP nomination should he change his mind. According to the USA Today/Suffolk University survey, 35% of Iowa Republicans say Romney would be their first choice in the Iowa caucuses. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is a distant second at 9% while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Sen. Rick Santorum are both at 6%. Two polls conducted this summer in New Hampshire show Romney would be the 2016 frontrunner in that state as well if he decided to run.

4. Rep. Paul Ryan. First-week sales of his new book were slow. According to Nielsen Bookscan data, Ryan's "The Way Forward" sold 6,266 copies in its first week of publication, though that figure does not include e-book and preorders. Ryan's book sales are trailing conservative author Dinesh D'Souza's "America" and Dr. Ben Carson's "The Way Forward," both of which have been out longer that Ryan's book. According to Ryan's publisher, the Wisconsin congressman and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee wrote the book "To challenge conventional thinking, renew the conservative vision for 2014 and beyond and show how it is essential for the well-being of our communities and the future of our nation."

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