MIAMI, Fla. - When you get a phone call from someone claiming to be a big-named politician, it can pay to be skeptical – just ask Sarah Palin. But as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has ably demonstrated, you don't want to be too incredulous, or you might just end up hanging up on the president-elect. Twice.
According to the Republican congresswoman's office, upon receiving a phone call from someone purporting to be Barack Obama, Ros-Lehtinen said this: "I'm sorry but I think this is a joke from one of the South Florida radio stations known for these pranks." She then hung up.
The call wasn't a joke, however, and Obama soon tried to reach Ros-Lehtinen again, this time through his incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
"Ileana, I cannot believe you hung up on the President-Elect," Emanuel said. Ros-Lehtinen, still under the impression that the call was not legitimate, promptly hung up again.
It was only after Chairman Howard Berman of the Foreign Affairs Committee called the congresswoman to insist that it was Obama trying to reach her – the still skeptical Ros-Lehtinen made Berman recount a story only the two of them knew to confirm that it really was Berman on the phone – that she accepted that Obama had called. The president-elect tried one more time a short time later, and the two finally had a conversation.
How do we know all this? Because Ros-Lehtinen – clearly not embarrassed by the incident – put out a press release detailing what took place. Which proves she has a sense of humor, if not a copy editor – in the release, both the names "Barack" and "Emanuel" were spelled wrong.