Florida congresswoman hangs up on Obama twice

December 4, 2008

WASHINGTON – For Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the voice on her cell phone sounded eerily familiar.
“He sounded just like Obama,” she said on Thursday, referring to President-elect Barack Obama.
Sensing she was the victim of a spoof by a South Florida radio station, she promptly disconnected the call.
Trouble was, it was Obama.
A chagrined Ros-Lehtinen told the Fox News Channel that she also hung up on Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, when he called her back to explain it really was the next president on the line.
Both Emanuel and Obama tried to convince her the call was for real.
“Guys, it’s a great prank, really,” she said she told them.
It took a subsequent call from California Democratic Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to finally convince Ros-Lehtinen to talk to Obama.
To convince her that it really was Berman, she said she told him, “Give me the private joke that we share.”
Once Berman cleared that hurdle, Ros-Lehtinen was ready to talk to Obama. They discussed Cuba and Israel, she said.

REUTERS/Jason Reed (Obama speaks on with supporter on the phone)


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Nominate her for homeland security!

Posted by Steve Spinella | Report as abusive

Actually, Rep. Howard Berman was just in on the prank, too. :)

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

Oh, please. The representative isn’t really THAT dumb, is she?

Posted by MTH | Report as abusive

What’s the “private joke” they share? Being elected in competitive districts?

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

This is just an example of how clever Obama is in paving the way for a successful first time, and laying groundwork already for the 2012 race – cementing personal relationships with pols across the country. Smart! (ObamaAgain2012.com)

Posted by edwards | Report as abusive

Funny…. she decided not to repeat Palin’s mistakes and got it wrong. Republicans cannot do it right no matter how they try it. :)

Posted by Rob | Report as abusive

Looks like Republican women are going to set back women in politics by years. Gees, she’s as dumb as Palin.
I wouldn’t have called her back. Is she that paranoid. If so, why?

Posted by Judy | Report as abusive

To “edwards:”

Why don’t we wait and see what kind of job he does for a year or two before we start campaigning for 2012? Honestly, campaigning for the guy at this point does absolutely nothing except convince me (and anyone else with an ounce of common sense) that you are either a party line left wing fanatic who should be shipped to a communist country, or a racist. (Yes, my freind, racism goes both ways.)

Posted by BlackHat | Report as abusive

I think the sensible thing to do would have been to first determine that it actually was obama, and THEN hang up on him.

Posted by Andreus | Report as abusive

Why exactly is this in the news?

Posted by L | Report as abusive

[…] on Thursday, referring to President-elect Barack Obama. Sensing she was the victim of a … Florida congresswoman hangs up on Obama twice – Reuters Blogs posted by at 10:14 am […]

Posted by Star Wars Nexus » Florida congresswoman hangs up on Obama twice – Reuters Blogs | Report as abusive


Not dumb, just overly caution after the joke that was played on Sarah Palin by a radio station pretending to be Russian leader Putin. If it had been a radio station prank and she fell for it everyone would be listening to the online version talking about how dumb she was to fall for it.

Posted by Lynne | Report as abusive

I don’t blame her for being careful. Unfortunately much of the “entertainment” media thinks its fun to make somebody look like a fool. Can you really blame a public figure for not wanting to be the butt of a joke? BTW, I voted for Obama and I don’t see how this has anything to do with a persons sex or political affiliation. It is all about someone not wanting to be publicly humiliated.

Posted by Jim McCorison | Report as abusive

Judy, women like you who call other women dumb is what is setting back women in politics. Let me guess, you didn’t vote for Hillary because you didn’t trust her. And she’s paranoid because people like you ridiculed and called Palin dumb when she was pranked…perhaps she doesn’t want to be ridiculed, but as usual, no matter what a woman does, it’s the wrong thing and there’s something wrong with her. Judy, please don’t be dumb by demeaning other women. We get it enough from the guys.

Posted by AM | Report as abusive

To Blackhat:

What? Fanatical Kettle calling Pot…

Posted by BlackHeart | Report as abusive

Why wouldn’t she just ask them if she could call them back instead of hanging up? These people are ridiculous.

Posted by moka | Report as abusive


I wouldn’t say that she’s dumb. If you were in government, which headline would you rather be mentioned in:

A: “Florida congresswoman hangs up on Obama twice”
B: “Florida congresswoman fooled into discussing national political strategy on Cuba and Israel with Obama impersonator; discussion broadcast in Florida.”

(for the geographically disadvantaged, Florida would be that tall pointy state located about 90 miles from Cuba)

Personally, I’d choose “A” myself. She was being overcautious. Radio personalities are stooping lower and lower in their bid for ratings.

Well, I’m male, so I wouldn’t choose the “congresswoman” part of the headline, but you get the idea… :)

Posted by Nate | Report as abusive

Smart woman. Obviously not gullible like a lot of the posters on this board who thought she was dumb for being skeptical, given all of the recent political phone pranks.

Posted by Tyrone | Report as abusive

This is a result of radio stations and their stupid pranks. I cringe when I see pranks played on people, including Punk’d and Candid Camera. Dishonesty to get a laugh is not funny to me.

Posted by David Walker | Report as abusive

Well, if someone called *me* claiming he was Barak Obama, I wouldn’t just assume that person actually *was* who he said he was.
Would you?
Hard to know what to to: he’s not the president (so you can’t just call back to 1600 Penn).

BTW: Lynne – it was a prankster pretending to be Sarkozy (president of France).

Posted by Bob Koure | Report as abusive

I don’t care what party she is a member of, the lady was just being smart. Even if it wasn’t a radio show it could easily have been someone looking to manipulate her for some other reason. I think it is high time that our politicians started thinking seriously about security. Maybe they will also have an outbreak of commonsense and cancel the useless TSA program too.

Posted by SumDumGuy | Report as abusive

The only real news story here is the last sentence: They discussed Cuba and Israel, she said.

Posted by Truthseeds | Report as abusive

Soon we will need SSL and certificate verification just to speak on the phone.

Posted by Peter Yannone | Report as abusive

The “private joke” that they shared was that she did, in fact, know that she was hanging up on Obama. Twice.

Posted by CL | Report as abusive

Odd, you’d think there would be caller ID for such a position, as well as screeners before even getting to her number.

Posted by G B | Report as abusive

The ultimate pessimist?
Very, very smart.

Posted by ohohbob | Report as abusive

It was a prank by a canadian radio station pretending to be Nicholas Sarkozy (French President), not Putin.

Posted by Karl | Report as abusive


Posted by TEAMOBAMA | Report as abusive

What was he calling her for anyway?

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Are we to believe that there is no secure, verifiable way for one member of government to call another member of government to discuss issues of national importance? Can anyone, anywhere call up, for example, Texas Governor Rick Perry and pretend to be, say, California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, and the only way for him to tell if the call is legit is to compare the voice to an old VHS of Kindergarten Cop?

Posted by Ol Yello | Report as abusive

Andreus, I like your style ; )

Posted by Jordan | Report as abusive

Anyone who calls this congresswoman ‘smart’ obviously is not!

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

Gosh it’s so annoying listening to some party-line homers on here attack each other for which party they side with.

Soon enough (I hope) Americans will realize both parties are nothing more than button-pushers for big corporations who bribe them. I mean give them campaign contributions.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

Tom, I guess Obama likes to talk to not smart people. He must have called you recently too.

Posted by AM | Report as abusive

Is this really news? It was a mistake. I’m sick of hearing about this story.

Posted by Lauren | Report as abusive

Well that’s that as far as: “Congress wanting your voice to be heard.”

Posted by ddavid | Report as abusive

I feel betrayed and used by Senator Chambliss of Georgia. For three (3) months I, almost daily, got a phone message or a piece of mail, NOW he has what he (and I) wanted and he has decided to ignore me completely. No more phone calls, no more little reminders of our mutually shared goals, nothing. I feel like a groom left standing at the alter. Well all I can say is Hooray, “I’m glad it’s over”, now do what is necessary to balance the power in the senate, because if you don’t after putting me through that ordeal, I will drive down to Washington and lose my shoe where the sun don’t shine.

Posted by BOB ROWLAND | Report as abusive

Oh please, give Llena a break, at least she’s didn’t fall for a telephone scam the way Sarah Palin did. Hmmm, a woman using her brains for a change, how novel.

Posted by Marla | Report as abusive

It was all a big joke. Everyone was in it…

Posted by Andy Coo | Report as abusive

Why is Obama acting like a president when he is not yet one. so he would call 2 staff members and tell them to call a third one and convince her to accept his call, what a freak! and that’s because he wants to discuss Cuba and Israel, with a Florida congresswoman, I would have hung up too, even if I knew for sure who he is!

Posted by Monica | Report as abusive

[…] Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen isn’t so easily fooled. Jimmy? [Clip explaining that Ros-Lehtinen hung up on Barack Obama because she thought it was a prank call. Ros-Lehtinen: “Barack Obama, calling me! I’m just another […]

Posted by Episode 4157 (12/08/2008) | No Fact Zone | Report as abusive