When a man sounding remarkably like President-elect Barack Obama called a Florida congresswoman Wednesday, she assumed it was a crank call.
So Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen hung up. But, the Miami Herald reports, this was no prank.
"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me," Ros-Lehtinen told the newspaper. "They got Fidel Castro to go along. They’ve gotten Hugo Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, ‘Oh, no, I won’t be punked.’"
The call came about 1 p.m. Obama congratulated her on her re-election, saying he was looking forward to working with her as the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, Ros-Lehtinen told the newspaper.
The conversation lasted about a minute when she cut Obama off, telling him she wasn’t falling for the hoax and that he was a better impersonator than the guy on Saturday Night Live, she said.
Then Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, called the congresswoman to tell her it wasn’t a joke. But she hung up on him, too. It took a call from Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to persuade Ros-Lehtinen that Obama really did want to talk to her.
When the two finally talked, Ros-Lehtinen said she and Obama had a good conversation and she congratulated him for his victory despite how hard she campaigned for his opponent, Sen. John McCain.
He didn’t even blame her for mistaking him for a radio-station prank, she said.
"He laughed a lot, saying in Chicago they do it all the time," Ros-Lehtinen said. "He said, ‘I don’t blame you for being skeptical.’"
Repeated calls by The Associated Press to two office numbers for the congresswoman rang unanswered after hours Wednesday. An e-mail message to an Obama spokeswoman after hours wasn’t immediately returned.