December 3rd, 2008
07:37 PM ET
6 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. Carmela, Longwood, Florida

    So, folks, since I have nothing to comment on this, how about who do you think will win Amazing Race? How about Survivor? Can you honestly get enough of Dexter?

    December 3, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  2. clifford

    Hung up on Obama? That's alright because he hung up on all of his supporter's!!! You "left" wing liberal's have been "left "out!!!

    December 3, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  3. Bohica

    I think this is funny myself.. Of course not as good as the Sarah Palin prank call from the french president. I was howling with laughter she sounded so so so dum......... and her giggling.......... next best was the turkey fiasco

    December 3, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. joe 6pack

    whatever happened to old fashioned face to face meetings.

    December 3, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. kevin

    so both mccain and obama were not born in or anywhere near america. viva mexico

    December 3, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  6. ttofast70@comcast.net

    Hey John you are miserable white trash with no life. The fact that CNN printed your gross, ignorant, in-bred, hillbilly statement shows a gross disservice in the taste department. Please print my response to that pig you let opine earlier.

    December 3, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  7. Terry Berg

    Hi, I'm Terry, and I'm a Republican. And a fair minded Republican at that. As much as I didn't want Obama in the Whitehouse, there he is. Nothing I can do about it. I hope he keeps up his campaign promises.

    On the subject of his birth: What difference does it make where he was born. He was born of a United States citizen. If you are a United States citizen, and you have a baby in Kenya or anywhere else in the world. That makes you a United States citizen. End of story.

    December 3, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  8. Independent_m

    Sarah Palin could learn a thing or two from this Congresswoman!
    Tooooo funny!!!

    December 3, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. dickelocker, Ft. Lauderdale

    Why would Obama call Ros-Lehtinen?
    She was one of the few GOP Reps who voted for the bail-out (TARP)the 2nd time around (not the 1st time). Her two Cuban cohorts, the DIaz-Bailart brothers, voted against both times. She is also ranking GOP member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She is someone Obama may need.

    Why did she hang up? She's a humble woman, and saw no reason why Obama would call her. And Yes, these South Florida disc jocks call people out of the blue with accurate impersonations, and say the most horrid things. Vicious, personal, invasive.

    I think it was wise of her to hang up, given the improbable circumstances. However, she knows both Emmanuel and Berman. Her native tongue is Spanish, so perhaps she doesn't easily recognize individual English-speaking personalities on the phone. There are a lot of Obama impersonators out there.

    I hope Obama's outreach bodes well or future bipartisanship.
    Where does the birth certificate fit into this? rel

    December 3, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  10. Trevor in Ja

    @ those saying you would hang up too

    You know you are lying. You would be so full of yourself to have the President calling you that you would talk and then tell your neighbourhood the President called you

    December 3, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  11. Brad

    OMG I'm talking about politics on CNN; I'm so productive!

    December 3, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  12. Vegas Roller

    Is Ms. Ros-Lehtinen so important that she can't take a call from the President-elect or another member of Congress? For that matter, is she so important she can't take a call from one of her own constituents – even if it is a radio prankster? I've seen this public servant – and I use the term loosely as she seems only interested in serving herself – on TV and all she does is toe the standard Republican party line which as we've seen over the past eight years serves nobody but the super rich at the expense of everyone else.

    December 3, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  13. Matt

    This is great. When a Republican falls for a practical joke they are an idiot (Palin), and when they think someone is doing a practical joke then they are idiots. Great thinkers out there. This is a really funny story that has nothing to do with the intelligence of the representative. Do you really think that a representative from another party, there are over two hundred of them, should have been expecting a call from someone who isn't even president yet?

    December 3, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  14. Marc

    How dare she hang up on our President-Elect.

    Obama.........A Real American Hero!!

    December 3, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  15. Erika, KS

    This is too funny!

    December 3, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    This woman knew very well it was Barack Obama. She just wanted the opportunity to disrespect the man.

    Childish.

    December 3, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  17. Obama Supporter

    This was an innocent reaction on her part. She was just overly cautious, probably based on prior experience with prank calls from S. Florida radio stations. No need to hurl insults at her.

    December 3, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. Gerry

    This person has a need of a personality bail-out. She ought to apply with the White House. I understand they will shortly have a surplus of personalities to hand out. Good Luck, and God Save Us from the GOP.

    December 3, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  19. reggie

    I don't blame her one bit. There are so many pranks out there. AND, yes, I am sure some of them are pulled on democrats, too.

    December 3, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  20. Seth

    Always follow your instincts...

    December 3, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  21. mfh

    hey john,

    nice comment. any idea what year it is by the way? the 50's were over a few back. unless you live under a rock, take a look at the us population. your days are numbered.... and so are mine.

    December 3, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  22. Eric

    Wow, judging by some of the comments, it really is sad that they don't bring back the 'three-fifths' concept for voting, but instead of discriminating against blacks, they could discriminate against morons. This way, educated people like me won't have their votes diluted by children in adult bodies.

    December 3, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  23. Jeff From Jersey

    FLORIDA!
    THAT FIGURES!
    ENOUGH SAID!

    December 3, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  24. Larry

    She didn't vote for him,obviously she not stupid,she acted vary intelligently,unlike the people here.If you get a call from Obama,I am sure YOU would think it was him,and ask him when he was going to give you those rich peoples money he promised you.

    December 3, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  25. Chris

    Why do people bother to respond to anyone who types their entire message in caps?

    December 3, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
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