Bachmann: Every debate is a 'political Super Bowl'

Story highlights

  • "There's a lot of pressure on each of these candidates tonight," Bachmann said.
  • The key is to make a connection with the voters and come off as authentic, the Republican advised.

Washington (CNN)On the day of the first Republican presidential debate, veteran presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann had one piece of advice for the 17 candidates: Treat each debate like it's the Super Bowl.

The former Minnesota congresswoman -- who once led polling in the 2012 Republican primary before eventually losing the nomination -- cautioned if the current crop of candidates don't turn in strong performances, enthusiasm for their campaigns could soon wane.
"Each one of the debates this particular year in itself is a political Super Bowl," Bachmann told CNN's Brianna Keilar on Thursday. "We're looking perhaps at 10 minutes ... that they'll (each) have a chance to speak to the voter. And will they continue? Because the funding sources will begin to dry up very quickly for these candidates, depending on their debate performance."
    Bachmann said when she ran for the Republican nomination, she took part in 15 debates. Not only are there fewer this cycle, with nine debates, but more candidates.
    The key is to make a connection with the voters and come off as authentic, Bachmann advised.
    "There is no filter between the candidates and the person sitting at home or in a bar or somewhere watching these debates," Bachmann said. "So the candidate has the ability to project their personality through the camera and into the hearts and the minds of the voters in the United States."
    "You can't cram for this," she added. "Who you are and your life is on display that night. And if you crammed, it's very obvious that you crammed for this. ... It's kind of like if you go back to kindergarten, and you did show and tell, that's what this will be.
    Bachmann said she'll be watching for the candidates' position on the deal with Iran to suspend its nuclear program being advocated by President Barack Obama. While all issues are important, she said, Iran is in a "league of its own" -- and she'll be looking for candidates to show they are ready to be commander in chief.
    The night could separate the wheat from the chaff.
    "There will be a magic moment for a few people and that will propel them forward," she said. "There's a lot of pressure on each of these candidates tonight."