December 3rd, 2008
07:37 PM ET
5 years ago

GOP congresswoman hangs up on Obama - twice

Above: Pre-election Obama makes a slightly smoother call.
Above: Pre-election Obama makes a slightly smoother call.

WASHINGTON (CNN) –A Florida congresswoman – convinced she was being prank-called by a Barack Obama sound-alike – hung up on the actual president-elect Wednesday.

Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was told by an aide that Obama wanted to speak with her. According to a statement released by her office, the Republican congresswoman cut off the caller, telling him she thought “this is a joke from one of the South Florida radio stations known for these pranks.” She then hung up.

Obama’s future White House chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel – a fellow congressman – then called her to let her know she’d actually been speaking with the future commander-in-chief. Ros-Lehtinen, convinced the call was another hoax, hung up on him, too.

Finally, an aide told Ros-Lehtinen she had an urgent call from Chairman Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Still suspicious, Ros-Lehtinen urged the California Democrat to recount a story only both of them would know.

Berman passed the test - and told her she had, in fact, hung up on President-elect Obama.

When an amused Obama called again, Ros-Lehtinen he was either “very gracious” to reach across the aisle by contacting her, or “had run out of folks to call, if you are truly calling me.” Otherwise, she said, Saturday Night Live “could use a good Obama impersonator like you.” The Obama transition team declined comment on the incident.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton also spoke with Ros-Lehtinen by phone, relatively uneventfully.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra
soundoff (377 Responses)
  1. Anon

    Perhaps she should apologize?

    December 3, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  2. Noneya

    geez people, lighten up! She made a mistake, and I am sure Obama did not take it personally. You people – both Dems and Repubs, need to get past the whole campaign and be gracious... both in winning and in losing!

    December 3, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. Anon

    Perhaps she should apologize?

    December 3, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Becky

    Am on the Phone with OBama right now

    Obama 08-12

    December 3, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  5. Jeff

    LOL, too funny. Please stop the hatred folks, it's not worth it. Hatred will lead you nowhere, except where you don't want to go.

    December 3, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  6. Joman

    How scary is it that ignorant, racist bigots have equal access to the Internet..!?

    Maybe its actually a good thing – one can hope that they get directly challenged by rational, intelligent people – and end up learning something that changes their world view for the better.

    Then again some people still think the moon landing was a staged hoax. Yeesh....

    December 3, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  7. nostradamus

    I have no idea what have to do a centrist pragmatic politician as Obama, with this political dinosaure right wing scumbag. Ileana Ross Lethinen is a Repug Cuban infiltrated in the US Congress. Obama should realize that Cuban politicians have their own Agenda, a pro-Cuban Agenda where Americans do not exist. Obama should understand that he must end the Cuban embargo immediately he got the Presidency, fixing a historical dirty mistake. He can't show the same weakness and lack of morality of past administrations pandering MiamiCuban votes. In exchange, they allowed that Cubans dictated the US foreign policy with Cuba and with Latin America. Cuban Immigration Adjustment Act should be repealed ASAP!!! The criminal embargo should stop at once.!!!!!

    December 3, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  8. Caroline

    She probably did it on purpose and the joke thing was a cover up... I dont blame her.

    December 3, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  9. me myself and I

    all of yall need to relax big time. it is jus a funny story and doesn't need to be politicized or made into some us verses them type of thing. lets learn to laugh together and get back to the center of things a little more. please? !

    December 3, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  10. Ron

    I'd hang up on a joke, too.

    December 3, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  11. Well maybe they Congress needs a secret code for the Cammander in Chief phone calls?

    Well mabe they the Congress needs a secret code for all phone calls from the Commander in Chief, likes, "Frozen Eagles" Jim, Wayne, Mi.

    December 3, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  12. Ayn Rand

    Howard Roark – You used to be such a good man and so much more intelligent than to comment on something like this! What happened?

    December 3, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  13. jerry

    She is exactly the type of sicko we've waited to get rid of. She's both dumb and rude. A Spanish Palin. But for her, only ex-rich Cubans count anyway, so the president doesn't deserve her time.

    The mystery is why did both Obama and Clinton call her?

    December 3, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  14. Ken, Plano, TX

    So are all the Pub pols quaking in their dress shoes because Palin got punked?

    Maybe a little humbling's what they need, anyway. Not only did they really screwed up, but to this day they frantically deny that enacting their philosophy into policy has proven that their philosophy isn't viable. They're still trained to think like the Bush base, faithful, and with conviction undeterred by fact or crushing defeat.

    If they can't get in touch with reality, we can't afford to let them govern.

    December 3, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  15. Kimberly

    Shes not an idiot, I mean look how stupid palin looked thinking that the President of France was calling her to talk about hunting. I am an Obama supporter, but I can TOTALLY understand how this woman who was NOT expecting the call was not going to look like an idiot when it could have been a joke. Then everyone would have said what an idiot she is thinking Obama was calling her...SEE she cant win...It reminds me of the movie The American President when Anette Benning told the President he had a nice butt, because she thought it was a prank call, haha....

    December 3, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  16. rasabu

    I'd hang up on both the Congresswoman and Obama if either called me. I'm tired of the embargo against Cuba, which has changed nothing since it was put in place except destroy the lives of the Cuban people even further than the Castro's have, and Obama has shifted so far to the right he has been a Clinton clone. What ever happened to his liberal positions. He's reinvented himself as a New Democrat. That's what the Clinton's called themselves when they first arrived in Washington.
    If we are going to have a Clinton administration, I'd rather the real thing and not someone acting like a Clinton.
    I'll take SOS designee Clinton's call anytime.
    I'd put Barack on hold.

    December 3, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  17. Anna from Milton, FL

    Dear Republic of LA: The constitution actually says "natural born citizen". As the son of a U.S. citizen, it doesn't matter one whit where he was born. He could even have been born on Krypton, as he has claimed. He was born a citizen. Get over it.

    December 3, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  18. Johnny Logic

    This post just reflects the damage being done by the two-party system here in America. People wonder why things cannot get done in Washington, D.C. or even in their own states. It's because the loyalties to one's "party" are superceding the needs and desires of the people. It's getting worse every year. AARRGGH

    December 3, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  19. Vi

    Obviously, you people don't the morning radio talking heads here in South Florida, I would have been skeptical as well.

    December 3, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  20. Barack & Roll

    wow. the intelligence of republicans astounds me everyday

    December 3, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  21. Sanity has Returned

    It's sad to see some of the racists comments made on this thread about Obama.. I guess ignorance is the rule of the day. Just remember, Obama is still going to be your President and he will do his best to bring much needed change to this country for all citizens, not just the haves and have mores. When his term (s) are finished, he'll still be intelligent, a great husband, great father, a former President, former US Senator, former 2 term Illinois Senator, an author, a former Civil Rights attorney and Constitutional Law Professor..What will you be other than whiney, jealous and probably still as ignorant?

    December 3, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. Alex

    All of a sudden, my fear that Florida will send a Bush to the Senate has increased 100 fold!

    December 3, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  23. Diebold Bandit

    Yes, a black man is president.

    I know this is disturbing to some of you.

    And although every nerve in your bodies feeds off of the fear of someone – anyone . . . the sun will still come up tomorrow.

    Grow up.

    December 3, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  24. Ravi

    You know, it's one thing to be cautious, but this lady was over the top. After several people stated the facts, she still stubbornly refused to accept the truth. I didn't see this as a Dem or Repub issue. I saw it as a congressperson being disrespectful to the future president of the US.

    But props to Barack on reaching out to the other side of the aisle. I'm confident that many Republicans will appreciate that once he takes office.

    December 3, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  25. Ken, Plano, TX

    @REPUB OF LA (and anyone else silly enough to keep bringing up the birth certificate non-issue.

    It doesn't matter where McCain was born. He was born to parents who were US citizens at the time of his birth, so the law says he was born a US citizen, even if he happened to be born in a tent halfway up Mount Everest.

    Obama, same deal.

    December 3, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
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