Herman Cain's former rivals are weighing in on his departure from the presidential race, uniformly praising his role in the campaign.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman -- who earlier this week called for Cain to bow out of the race, calling the allegations against him a distraction -- was the first to issue an official press release on his departure.

"Herman Cain offered a unique and valuable voice to the debate over how to reform our country’s uncompetitive tax code and turn around the economy," Huntsman said. "I understand his decision and wish him and his family the best."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose surging campaign is expected to benefit from Cain's exit, praised his 9-9-9 tax plan.

"Herman Cain’s 999 plan got our country talking about the critical issue of tax reform and he elevated the dialogue of the primary," Gingrich wrote on Twitter. He added: "I am proud to know Herman Cain and consider him a friend and I know he will continue to be a powerful voice for years to come."

At a campaign stop in New Hampshire prior to Cain's announcement, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he wishes Cain well with whatever he decides.

"I wish him well," Romney said, adding that if he ends his campaign, he hopes Cain supporters would take a good look at all the remaining candidates in the field when picking another one to support.

Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann echoed Romney's sentiments, with a message on her campaign's Twitter account reading, "I wish Herman, his wife Gloria, and his family all the best."

"Herman Cain provided an important voice. His ideas & energy generated tremendous enthusiasm for the conservative movement," she said.

Cain said he would be endorsing another candidate "in the near future," but did not indicate who it would be.

One last thing…
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