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

GOP congresswoman hangs up on Obama - twice

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. tim

    Tells you want practical jokes lead too – lack of trust.

    December 3, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  2. Jesus Praising, Freedom Loving American Patriot

    Another seat for the Dems next in 2010

    December 3, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  3. Ben

    I wonder if he asked the question, "Is Your refrigerator running?" If she said yes, he probably told her,"Maybe you should go out and catch it.". Or, maybe he asked her about Seymour.

    December 3, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  4. Proud American from New England


    December 3, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  5. honestly

    ....And we wonder why Congress gets low approval scores....!

    December 3, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  6. Andy

    Even if you think it was a prank call, it'd be nice to have politicians with the courage and temperament to play along. At least the second time.

    December 3, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  7. Miami for Obama


    December 3, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  8. Tim

    Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

    yet another – in a long line of – insignificant republicans.

    December 3, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  9. Stratofreaker

    Oh come on people, lighten up. True, this isn't a "hard news" piece, but a humorous one. And I think it's as funny as hell. Give the lady a break, I'd have probably hung up too. And I'm a dyed in the wool, big-time Obama supporter.

    But there is an underlying story. Obama *is* reaching across political lines. Sorry to break it to you Repubes, but you won't hear that on Faux News.

    December 3, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  10. Angela

    Oh, leave her alone. I can understand why she thought it was a prank. She probably thought she was too far down the line (and in the wrong party) to receive a call from the actual President Elect.

    December 3, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  11. Dave in Houston

    He was calling to offer her the post of Secretary of Education, but when she hung up, he got someone else!

    Wah, wah, waaaaaaaaah!

    December 3, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  12. Debbie

    I remember seeing her on Real Time last week.

    First one to talk, last one to listen. Yeah, instead of checking with her staff to see if this was real, shed rather avoid being pranked. Good gesture of showmanship and self preservation over a non issue, congresswoman.

    December 3, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. Steve

    You people that post are armchair most in this talk...(oh do you talk) but do nothing to act!!!

    You vote for a party like I cheer for a sports team and have no analytical ability on actual issues... GO SHEEP GO!!!

    December 3, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  14. dssdaasdsdasd

    Obama is awesome

    December 3, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  15. Sunny

    Come on! Can't you see what she did? She played the super whami card...hang up on Obama, his staffer, question the third caller and then hey...make the national headlines...

    December 3, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  16. TexasGoat

    She doesn't even think highly enough of herself to think the President-elect would actually call her.


    December 3, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  17. ReasonedTraveler

    It's a humorous story that could happen to anyone. Lighten up, everyone.

    December 3, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  18. Miami

    Ros-Lehtinen ... what a paranoid idiot. How does hanging up TWICE on the President-Elect help your constituents? Thanks Ileana. But don't worry, no matter what you do we will always vote for you only because you are a Republican.

    December 3, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  19. sara

    I am an Independent who votes mostly democrat. What a hateful, lousy bunch of winers you all are. For GOD'S SAKE and this country's sake, get a grip!

    The woman is NOT an idiot, she had no real way to verify the call. She acted appropriately. Republicans are NOT stupid because they are Republicans...Dems are not smart because they are Democrats. PEOPLE are what they are. When you trash Republicans because you disagree with certain ideas, you are trashing your fellow American. When you trash Dems because they are Dems, the same thing. When you trash anyone of these, you trash me. And I don't play that.

    I do not worry about people from across the world trying to hurt our country. They don't have to do a thing to hurt us. If we do not learn how to pull together as a people, we will do it ourselves...and I for one, will not help you do it.

    So Stop it.

    December 3, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  20. Antwon Davis

    Will the real Obama please stand up!


    December 3, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  21. Ross

    With their lame duck leader leaving office, these people can't even think with their own brains!!! First Martinez, now her! Click!

    December 3, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  22. Miami

    When Ros-Lehtinen sees Obama in person she will laugh at him and make jokes by claiming he is just a good Obama impersonator who could work on SNL. What a great sense of humor we have Ileana. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is just an impersonator of a Member of Congress. She gives the Congress a bad name my making herself the laughingstock of the country. What an idiot. Hang up on everyone that calls you and see how many friends you make that way. Boy I sure hope Ros-Lehtinen doesn't need to ask Obama's help for anything. She will hang up on him as soon as he answers.

    December 3, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  23. Jim in Ohio

    And if the Congresswoman HAD been victimized by a crank call – then all of you flaming her for being suspicious would now be flaiming her for being so naive as to not BE more suspicious!

    I'm NOT a Republican – but reading so many derisive comments shouts loud and clear that you are no shining example of "the change we need" by being so ingracious.

    December 3, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  24. Jeanne Bean

    Wow, I cannot believe how utterly rude some people posting on here are. Obama deserves none, absolutely NONE of your insults!

    I can understand why she thought it was a prank. Maybe people should stop playing the pranks.

    December 3, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  25. Mullsky

    A Republican Congresswoman is ridiculed for being cautious and yet Obama wins the Presidency on a platform of "Hopey Hopey Change Change" . Quite Ironic.

    December 3, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
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