It just might be a milestone in the annals of American politics: Jon Breen, the longtime editor of the Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph -- he of Ronald Reagan's famous protest, "I'm paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!" -- has left the newspaper.

Despite being misidentified, Breen became an instant legend. He was pushed into the spotlight a few days before the 1980 New Hampshire primary, when the Telegraph held a presidential debate, partly underwritten by the Reagan campaign, in a high school gym. Both the Telegraph and George Bush, then the putative Republican frontrunner, were expecting a one-on-one debate with Reagan, and were caught by surprise when the former California governor showed up with four other Republican candidates.

Bush stared stonily ahead, saying nothing, as Reagan insisted that the others be permitted to participate. Breen attempted to turn off Reagan's microphone. Reagan then issued his pronouncement, delivering the coup de grace to Bush's presidential hopes that year, and assuring Breen's celebrity status.

"Let me put it this way," Breen said last week. "Andy Warhol once said everyone was entitled to 15 minutes of fame. I'm sorry that I cheated so many people of their allotted time."

Breen resigned this month after 11 years at the paper over what he described as "internal differences" with upper management. "It was not a bitter parting," he said. "It's interesting you should call right now, because I'm doing resumes."