Despite not yet having taken office, US president elect Barack Obama is already one of the world's most ubiquitous and iconic figures. Which perhaps explains why, faced with the news that Mr Obama was on the line, a Republican congresswomen assumed her pals were playing a joke.

When Ileana Ros-Lehtinen received a call from someone describing himself as the president-elect, she thought she was the subject of a hoax - and hung up.

It took a further two calls – including one from the Chief Of Staff, whom she also believed was part of the prank - to convince Ileana she had indeed put the phone down on the next President. Mr Obama had called to congratulate her on being re-elected and to say he was looking forward to working with her.

Wary Ileana apparently thought she was the subject of a radio station hoax, like that which famously caught out Sarah Palin, and even complimented the new 'premier' on his impersonation.

Mr Obama saw the funny side of things, however, and - when he eventually got to speak to her - told the congresswomen he'd been amused. "Hey in Chicago our radio stations are just as bad," he told her, before adding: "My staff will get a kick out of this."

For her part Ileana explained her incredulity by saying: "Why would Obama want to call a little slug on the planet like me?".

Photo: ©
While most politicians would be thrilled to receive a congratulatory call from the president elect, wary congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen put the phone down on him, believing she was the focus of a radio station hoax Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Even a word from the Chief of Staff didn't have Ileana convinced. It took another call from a member of the House of Representatives to persuade her she'd been speaking to the future leader. And even he had his identity quizzed Photo: © PA
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