Opinions on who came out on top at the CNBC GOP presidential debate varied among former politicians and insiders on Thursday, but there was one thing they agreed on: Jeb Bush was not the winner.
"It was a tough night. There's no question about it," Bush supporter Eric Cantor told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
However, the former Republican House majority leader said the debate was not a make-or-break moment for Bush.
"Remember, you don't win or lose a campaign in a single debate," he said. "Frankly, he's got the resume and the experience and [he was] the only one on that stage who's got eight years of experience to demonstrate that he can go to Washington and fix Barack Obama's mess."
Democratic former Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan called Bush's performance "lackluster" and "bland."
Bush failed to shine in the moments in which he became combative with other candidates, but fared best in discussions on Medicare and managing his state's finances, said Harold Ford Jr., a former Democratic congressman now with Morgan Stanley.
"The challenge Gov. Bush has is that he is a serious, sober, somber kind of guy. He's not a guy to take someone on," Ford told "Squawk Box." He said the the former Florida governor's in-your-face confrontation with Sen. Marco Rubio about his absences from Capitol Hill fell flat.
Rubio responded by ticking off a series of candidates who had missed votes, including Sen. John McCain, after whom Bush has said he is modeling his campaign.