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Meg Whitman

Can Fiorina become the Republican establishment's candidate?

IRVINE, Calif. Carly Fiorina is the latest Republican to emerge as the hope of the party's pivotal center-right voters, as onetime favorite Jeb Bush stumbles and other would-be contenders struggle to get noticed.

But she's got a long way to go. Past Septembers are full of pop-up political stars, little-known figures who capture the imagination, only to stagger once the public gets to know them.

Fiorina, a former business executive, was the undisputed star of Wednesday's Republican presidential debate and now faces new, intense scrutiny. Her unsuccessful 2010 U.S. Senate race in California wasn't close, she faces questions about her tenure as CEO at Hewlett-Packard,...