The only individual to receive a standing ovation during Thursday's presidential debate at UNLV wasn't onstage.
Las Vegan Christopher Gallagher, a veteran of the Iraq war, was among the audience members selected by CNN to ask a question of the seven Democratic presidential contenders.
When the 25-year-old Marine and his mother, Catherine Jackson, asked what the candidates would do to prevent sending him and other soldiers into Iran, Jackson mentioned her son's military service.
In response, the crowd and candidates rose and cheered.
"It felt great that I was able to represent a lot of veterans," he said afterward. "Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine I could ask a question to a presidential candidate, and never in a debate."
The College of Southern Nevada student was one of eight Nevadans given the opportunity to represent the state on national television.
Another was Judy Bagley, a cashier at Fitzgerald's.
"This is truly an unbelievable opportunity," Bagley said after the debate as she watched candidates sign autographs for audience members.
The 58-year-old asked what plans the candidates had for dealing with Medicare and Social Security. "I will never have the opportunity again, so I had to take advantage of it."
Although pleased with the opportunity to ask, Bagley was less impressed with the responses to her question.
After pausing and pursing her lips, she said of their answers: "I was satisfied to the extent they were able to answer the questions."
The grandmother of eight said she planned on voting for the candidate who secures the endorsement of the powerful Culinary union.
Audience members in the Cox Pavilion shaped the debate in other ways.
Early in the debate as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded barbs and monopolized the discussion, a rumble went through the crowd.
"What about the other candidates? It's not a two-person debate!" shouted one audience member.
When CNN panelist John Roberts appeared to direct yet another question to Clinton, an outcry from the audience forced the veteran newsman to pause and say the question was directed at John Edwards.
Gallagher likewise said he was largely unsatisfied with the debate.
"There were seven candidates up there, not three," he said, referring to Clinton, Obama and Edwards, who he said received the most talking time.