(CNN) - Several Republican presidential candidates praised the decision of the National Labor Relations Board to drop its case against Boeing on Friday, ending a highly-charged political battle that's played a significant role on the campaign trail.
"The NLRB's suit was a politically motivated assault on the rule of law by President Obama and his big labor allies," said frontrunner Newt Gingrich in a statement. "The founding fathers warned that when government grows too big the law would be usurped for political purposes. This case was an example of that."
The board filed a complaint in April on behalf of the International Association of Machinists, accusing the company of unfair labor practices when it moved its union-represented plant in Washington to South Carolina, a right-to-work state where workers are not required to join a union.
Boeing argued it was maintaining full employment at its plants in the Pacific Northwest, while the new plant in South Carolina had already hired 1,000 employees with the expectation of employing a total of 8,000 workers.
The firestorm was a frequent subject for the GOP presidential hopefuls, who used it to attack the Obama administration as too cozy with labor unions and overly eager to interfere in the private sector.
It was especially a strong talking point during campaign stops in South Carolina, which holds the nation's first Southern primary on Jan. 21.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said the NLRB's decision was a "welcome step" but criticized the initial complaint as a sign that "union bosses" are the ones "calling the shots."
"While it is good news for the people of South Carolina, it does little for workers and businesses around the country who depend on a fair and impartial U.S. government," Romney said in a statement Friday. "Thanks to President Obama's appointees, the NLRB has become a rogue agency that tramples on the rights of American workers and businesses, injecting job-killing uncertainty into the economic climate."
According to a statement from the NLRB on Friday, the case was dismissed after Boeing and members of the Machinists union came to a four-year collective bargaining agreement.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman also hailed the final result but called it a "victory in a battle that should have never been fought."
"Their action against Boeing in South Carolina was an unprecedented attempt to interfere in the free market, and an attempt to politicize companies' decisions as how and where they create jobs," Huntsman said in a statement. "We never should have reached this point; President Obama should have ordered the NLRB to stand down months ago."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry also issued a statement:
"The Obama Administration's dangerous and inappropriate action against Boeing and the right to work state of South Carolina remains a frightening reminder of Washington excess even with the NLRB dropping the case. Unaccountable federal political appointees should never have the authority to tell a private company where it may or must build factories."