When President-elect Barack Obama called Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at her South Florida district office Wednesday, she hung up on him.
'I thought: 'Why would Obama want to call a little slug on the planet like me?' '' Ros-Lehtinen said.
A short time later, Rahm Emanuel, Obama's designated chief of staff, called. Ros-Lehtinen hung up on him, too.
''I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. ``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'.''
Ros-Lehtinen was in Miami when she received Obama's first call about 1 p.m. on her cell phone from a Chicago-based number. The person on the line told Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, that the President-Elect would like to speak to her.
A man, who Ros-Lehtinen said sounded like Obama, got on the line and congratulated her on her reelection and said he was looking forward to working with her as the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs committee.
The conversation lasted just a minute when Ros-Lehtinen 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.
Then Emanuel called, and she hung up on him. It finally took Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to persuade Ros-Lehtinen that the president-elect indeed wanted to talk to her.
''I asked Howard to tell me a private joke we share about colleagues in the House to make sure it really was him,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. ``When he did, I realized it was the real deal.''
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