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. Bill

    Republicans are sooooo out of vogue – finally!

    December 3, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  2. Democrat to the bone

    hahaha i love it! another great example why the GOP should be exiled from congress, white house and any form of goverment office LMAO

    December 3, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  3. Mary-Ann

    Oh, Thomas. Not to put too fine a point on it, check out the difference between "except" and "accept." but, don't feel too badly; my grammar isn't the best either.

    Best of luck to all of us.

    December 3, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  4. Just A Thought

    To:
    Thomas December 3rd, 2008 8:36 pm ET

    I find it very funny when someone makes a statement like the following:

    "If you are going to talk about the intelligence of other people, then you should at least know how to spell and use words correctly. You also should display at least a slight degree of intelligence. The Rep wasn't refusing to talk to President Elect Obama, {she thought she} it was a hoax. Lighten up and go back to grammar school."

    Thomas, before you go and sit on your perch and point down at us little people for not using proper grammer and spelling words incorrectly, try proof reading your own comments. You will notice they have been bracketed above in your statement. Your welcome.

    December 3, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  5. Glen In Los Angeles

    Funny, funny, funny!

    December 3, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. Erick in Alabama a loyal Obama supporter

    ok, obama was born in a state, hawaii, mccain was born in another country, panama.so check your facts people and get over yourselves.you GOP aren't the only God believing, patriotic Americans! You will go to hell for telling democrats and others that don't agree with you the they are going there.

    December 3, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  7. FreeNLovIt

    That's great! I think for National Security purpose, you should have a secret question to ask a person... seriously..

    December 3, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  8. Jeff From Jersey

    If a Republican doesn't hear the tapes or see the video,then it didn't happen!Just like the conference call Bush had with the hurricane center about Katrina when they specifically told him the levees would almost certainly fail.His response?"Nobody told me it would be that serious."!

    Obama ought to call her at 3:00 AM to see if she's even capable of answering the phone when her country needs her.

    They weren't even painting caves when McCain was born.Heck,they might not even have left the trees yet.For all we know,even if he has 6 or 7 or however many houses,none will replace his tree fort.

    December 3, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  9. Nathan in Cincinnati

    Thomas – you complain about spelling and grammar, however, you have both spelling and grammar mistakes in your post! "except" should be accept; and "she thought she it was a hoax".

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

    a. How is this even a news-worthy story?
    b. The commentary that followed it demonstrates the ineptitude of the American public.

    December 3, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  11. Michael Kuester, OH

    In her defense, I'm surprised there aren't more politicians with phone paranoia, what with the infamous Palin incident. Kudos to Obama for having a good sense of humor about it.

    And beyond that, it really is a funny story.

    December 3, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  12. joseph

    She just didn't want people to see her in the same light as Palin who got punked: hook,line and sinker.

    December 3, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  13. steve r. from Wash st.

    good job!!!!! LOL

    December 3, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    This is not news

    December 3, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  15. Geoff in CT

    Typical republican jerk reaction. Losers, big time, all of them. Too bad it took so long to happen. The rest of us will be paying for the republcan misdeeds for decades to come.

    December 3, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. Tim

    Quick, somebody prank call her. I bet she won't hang up next time.

    December 3, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  17. Gisele from NY

    As Kevin stated, "Very understandable after the Palin-Sarkozy prank.". Oh, and Obama is a man of integrity. He promised to "reach across the aisle" and he has -numerous times. Perhaps Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is simply not used to that. This is all part of the change we were promised. Kudos to Obama!

    December 3, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. Dan, TX

    This is such a cute and funny story. Anyone who says ill of her or Obama is unAmerican.

    December 3, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  19. Get Real!!

    To barry...dana pt...calif – Yes, some Republicans are idiots. But there are far more idiots on the Democrats side. You all can blame Bush and the Republicans for the state of the economy but lets face it, it was the Democrat-led congress that got us into this mess! You know, the ones defending Fannie and Freddie. The ones lining their pockets with cash like Chris Dodd, Charles Schumer, and Barney Franks. Now Nancy Pelosi wants another multi-billion dollar stimulus package! WOW, just wait till Obama takes office. If you think the deficit is outrageous now – there will be no stopping them. Hope you all keep your half of your hard-earned money in your mattress (the other half is going to Obama!!!)

    December 3, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  20. Steve NY

    I would hang up if I thought it was him for real. LOL.

    December 3, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. mihalis

    *CLICK!* haha

    December 3, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  22. Nikita McMillon

    Obama do your thing, don't let the haters, hate on you. I think you and your wife belong in the whitehouse and it's time for a change. I have a son who has been to war five times since he has been in the us army. he was eighteen when he first joined the milltary. he is the only child that I have. I think that you will make a difference with the american people. also I think you have a wonderful choice in your tansition select with your team, and it can make a difference in america. as long as you oversee the process. obama all the america people are watching you, so keep your god in whatever choice you make. because what's for you can't know man take from you,now work it out.
    ps tell you wife she is a very bless young frist lady.
    may god bless you and family.

    December 3, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  23. Doug

    This is NOT a funny story. It is a sign of how dysfunctional our government has become.

    I voted for Obama, only because he might end the partisan gridlock that is destroying our country!

    For 20 years both Republicans and Democrats have been more concerned about winning elections than improving the country.

    McCain and Hillary were all about winning. Neither one could change things. I'm skeptical about Obama but he's the only one who has any chance to make things different.

    December 3, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  24. Andrea/ CA

    To Willie Brown and John you two are some idiots, he woudn't want to talk to you anyway, his IQ is way to high for you two ignorant, narrow minded, characters.

    December 3, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  25. Dan, FL

    I know it wasn't the case here but regardless of which side of the aisle you're on, elected officials should be off limits to tasteless pranks used to boost ratings you're losing to sirius and ipods.
    Im an obama supporter and I found this one pretty funny but if I were in her shoes, I'd have been skeptical too. sarah palin was hit by these fools while she was on the campaign trail and its pathetic to think that anyone seeking such an important and respectable position, regardless of how much I disagree with their beliefs, wasted even thirty seconds of their time for some moron's game.
    have standards.
    but like I said, this was pretty funny.

    December 3, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
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