Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Congresswoman hangs up on Obama

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she thought the call was a prank

US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen thought she was being hoaxed when a man who sounded a lot like Barack Obama called her - so she hung up on him.

In fact, the man at the other end of the line was indeed President-elect Obama himself.

It took two further phone-calls before Ms Ros-Lehtinen was convinced that the telephone call was genuine.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was recently fooled by a DJ pretending to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

'I won't be punked'

"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me," Ms Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami Herald newspaper.

"They've gotten Hugo Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, 'Oh, no, I won't be punked'."

Mr Obama was calling to congratulate her on her re-election, and to say that he looked forward to working with her in her role as the most senior Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee.

After a minute or so, Ms Ros-Lehtinen cut Mr Obama off, telling him she was not fooled by the hoax and that he was a better Obama impersonator than Fred Armisen, the man who does an impression of Mr Obama on the TV comedy show Saturday Night Live.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel called Ms Ros-Lehtinen back to persuade her to take the call, but she hung up on him as well.

It was only when Howard Berman, a fellow member of her committee, called her that she was persuaded to take the call.

"I asked Howard to tell me a private joke we share about colleagues in the House to make sure it really was him," Ms Ros-Lehtinen said.

"When he did, I realised it was the real deal."

Mr Obama then called her back, and was amused by the incident, according to Ms Ros-Lehtinen.

"He laughed a lot, saying 'in Chicago they do it all the time - I don't blame you for being sceptical'."

The pair then had a constructive discussion about foreign affairs, according to the congresswoman.

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