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Published: Saturday, 12/6/2008

You know my number...

ALL he was trying to do was reach across the partisan divide and she hung up on him. Now, President-elect Barack Obama truly has Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's number.

The Florida congressman, ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs committee and the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the House, apparently couldn't fathom that someone as important as the president-elect would call little ol' her. But in an effort to convey congratulations and other political niceties, Mr. Obama did.

Twice. And the lady from Miami cut him off - twice.

Like Sarah Palin with the faux French president, the congressman thought it was a radio station playing a joke and even told the caller, who identified himself as Barack Obama, that he was a better impersonator than the guy on Saturday Night Live.

Mr. Obama's chief of staff tried next. He sounded an awful lot like Rahm Emanuel but the congressman hung up on him too. It took a call from a colleague, Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, to finally persuade Ms. Ros-Lehtinen that the voice at the other end of the line was indeed Mr. Obama.

Fortunately, the incoming president has a sense of humor and had fun with her when they finally connected.

"Trust me, Ileana," she recounted him saying.

"You will always be remembered by me, because I have made many of these calls and never once has anyone ever hung up on me. And never once has anyone hung up on me twice."

And they say you only have one chance to make a first impression.

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