A dozen former and current staffers and Republican strategists were skeptical, and in some cases outright dismissive, of a Fiorina candidacy.

“Pretty much everybody else potentially running for president … is further along” in terms of public awareness and support with the base, Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak said.

Her newly hired spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, acknowledged as much: “Her name ID is a little low.”

Fiorina also finds herself in an ideological netherworld. She told POLITICO she’s “clearly not an establishment politician,” but she has held major positions within the party. She was named vice chairwoman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2011 and before that served as an economic adviser for the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain, a tea party scourge.