Appearing at an invite-only meet and greet with Madison-area Democrats on Wednesday, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout sounded very much like a candidate for governor, voicing her longstanding support for a statewide health insurance exchange and clearing the air about how she's evolved on the right to abortion.
The former dairy farmer-turned state senator told a small audience of about a dozen people that she believes it is vital for Wisconsinites of all stripes to "start a dialogue" now if the big out-of-state money behind Walker is to be challenged next November.
"Frankly, if money equals free speech, we don't have an alternative," she said. "We cannot win by accepting and playing by their rules. We have to rewrite the rules."
Vinehout added that Wisconsin absolutely needs "a statewide exchange" for health insurance to help lower people's costs -- drawing a sharp contrast with Walker, who has refused to launch a state exchange or accept federal money to expand Medicaid, driving Wisconsin premiums up to 99 percent higher on average than those in neighboring Minnesota.
Citing the roughly 92,000 Wisconsinites who were recently informed that they will no longer have access to low-cost health services through Badgercare, she added: "I think we need to get them the information about how there is an alternative... There's a different way to do this. That's enough. If people are paying this much money, that's enough to say, 'Hey, look, there's nothing different about being [like] the folks in Minnesota. Minnesota has figured out a way to do it, why can't we?'"
Vinehout added that the difference in what people think "Obamacare" does versus the actual provisions of The Affordable Care Act can be attributed to "the effectiveness of propaganda."
"There's no other way to describe the hideous commercials that are out there that have been bought by very, very, very wealthy people that want to see this plan fail," she said.
"This is the start, this is the beginning," Vinehout added, referring to that night's meeting. "This is the beginning of [a conversation about] what our state could be like."
Prompted by a volunteer from the National Organization for Women to address her previous support for anti-abortion initiatives, Vinehout explained that she's "grown away from them" and become more strongly pro-choice.
"My sister almost died from a botched abortion," she said. "If my dad hadn't found her, she wouldn't be alive. So, it is a very strongly-held belief that I have. Unfortunately, there are many people who grew up in the kind of household that I did who are now being manipulated by people who say they want them to vote a certain way."
"...The decisions that they make in the legislature aren't about life, as the people of my district think about," she concluded. "They're about taking away Badgercare. They're about taking away food stamps. They're about taking away living wages. They're about taking away child care. They're about taking away what people need to have -- a family, a family-sustaining job."
Vinehout recently told ABC News affiliate WQOW that a poll released this week by Marquette University showing her virtually tied with the already-announced Democratic candidate Mary Burke at 44 percent support "makes me want to run."
She's expected to appear at a series of similar town hall-style events around the Madison area this weekend.
This video was published to YouTube on Oct. 31, 2013.