- - Tuesday, November 10, 2015

According to a new a report from the Heritage Foundation, Sen. Ted Cruz is just about the ideal presidential candidate.

Heritage Action, the political arm of perhaps the most respected think tank in the conservative movement, which is now run by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, had almost nothing but praise for Mr. Cruz in its first ever presidential policy scorecard.

One of the report’s most stirring salutes involves Mr. Cruz’s regular campaign promise to actually do what he says, instead of getting distracted by the many trappings and sellouts of Washington, D.C.

Put another way, he won’t lie to you and is known for, um, having a pair.

“Like many other candidates, Senator Cruz has articulated a firm commitment to lim­ited government principles,” reads the report. “He stands out from the field for his willingness to use all available leverage to fight for those princi­ples, even when the battle is uphill.”

That resoluteness is one of the primary reasons why I endorsed Mr. Cruz for president this summer, and why others have embraced him with similar confidence across the country to make him one of the best-funded and best-organized candidates in the field.

All of that should bode well for Mr. Cruz’s chances of finishing in the top three in the Iowa caucuses come February, which has been the historical measuring stick for those who eventually go on to secure the Republican nomination for president.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal – Mr. Cruz’s primary competition for the allegiance of the conservative grassroots – are languishing under the shadowy exile of the kiddie table debate. Although Mr. Cruz has yet to soar in any of the often suspect polls that have defined the campaign so far, he has firmly established himself as a no-nonsense contender in a field as deep as the GOP has had in quite some time.

The Heritage Action report graded candidates according to six categories that included growth, opportunity, civil society, limited government, favoritism and national security (unlike its congressional scorecards, Heritage’s “presidential platform review” does not assign specific percentage scores to candidates). Other highlights for Mr. Cruz in those regards are:

* Tax policy: “His plan would sim­plify the individual code to a flat-rate ten percent tax while also eliminating the pay­roll tax, the death tax, and the anti-growth double-taxation of capital gains. It would also eliminate the corporate income tax, replacing it with a 16 percent tax on busi­ness revenue minus allowable investments and other expenses. The plan would pro­mote savings by allowing all Americans to save $25,000 per year tax-free.”

* Education: “He has been a vocal critic of Common Core and opposed the Senate’s reauthorization of No Child Left Behind on the grounds that it did not do enough to advance the principle of local control in education. Instead, he voted in favor of the A-PLUS Act, which would give states the flexibility to opt out of Department of Education mandates without sacrificing their access to federal education funding.”

* Defending the rule of law and the separation of powers: “[He recognizes] that co-equal branches of government cannot afford to cede their constitutional prerogatives.”

* Bucking corrupt leadership: “Though Senator Cruz initially voted for the trade bill that served as a bargaining chip for [Export-Import Bank] allies to secure reauthorization, he later switched his vote and exposed the backroom deals that had been struck by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him out on the Senate floor for lying to the American people. It cost him political capital in the U.S. Senate, but in doing so, Senator Cruz demonstrated real leadership.”

I am on record as saying that other than Mr. Cruz, only Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and Donald Trump has a shot at securing the GOP nomination. Among those men, only Marco Rubio comes close in Heritage Action’s report to grading out as highly as Mr. Cruz, but he is nonetheless firmly yoked to the legacy of his Gang of 8 amnesty bender.

As for Mr. Carson and Mr. Trump, the Heritage Foundation makes it abundantly clear that neither man has a reliable or tested track record when it comes to endorsing and fighting for conservative causes, or game-planning specific prescriptions for change.

Mr. Cruz, on the other hand, is at his very best when addressing controversial policy and ideological challenges. His winning debate performance last month rested on his ability to rattle the cages of the liberal press without coming across as a victim, which will be a vital asset for each and every issue the future president of the United States decides to champion.

Now Mr. Cruz must inspire the public to fight alongside him, while helping them to clearly see solutions to problems perpetually riddled with partisan gridlock. This is his next test as a potential 2016 standard-bearer. But it’s not just a test for Mr. Cruz. Whoever is the 2016 GOP nominee bears this responsibility.

The old live in a land they often no longer recognize, or have played a role in selling out future generations for a government check now. Meanwhile, too many of our millennials race forward with little regard for the collected wisdom of their forefathers, and a lusty penchant for self-worship.

Navigating that cultural minefield successfully is going to take near-perfection from our nominee. According to the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Cruz is the one best prepared for such a time as this.

(Steve Deace is a nationally syndicated talk show host and also the author of the book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can “like” him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)

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