Sen. Lindsey Graham made a stop in Aiken Monday for a fundraiser and to exchange a few words with business owners on Laurens Street.


Flanked my Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, Graham spent about an hour walking into stores and asking questions of the local businessmen and women – not forgetting to buy a little something in each place.


South Carolina’s senior senator asked about the current business climate and how things compare now to 2010. All the businessowners said they have seen improvements in recent months.


Graham bought an apron embossed with the Clemson University logo as a gift for a friend in Tea Garden Gifts. Then, after talking business and firearms in True Value Hardware, he purchased a small, camouflage-patterned knife.


Graham talked about his personal agenda, mostly, highlighting immigration reform and the sequestration’s impact on Department of Energy and Department of Defense employees.


Graham answered questions on the budget shortfall at the Savannah River Site, saying he still was looking for a solution.


“We are trying to find $80 million in the current system so we don’t have to furlough people,” he said. “But if we don’t replace sequestration by the end of this year, then it’s really going to be devastating to South Carolina.”


Graham hopes to reprogram $80 million from future budgets or other areas to keep SRS afloat in the short term.


He also spoke of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility project, which many say is on the chopping block come April 8.


“I’m going to do everything I can to keep the MOX project going,” Graham said.


“Now is not the time to retreat on MOX, not just for jobs in this area, but to keep the Russians to the treaty. It’s of vital importance.”


The MOX project is charged with turning 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium into fuel for commercial reactors. A non-proliferation agreement signed with the Russian Federation means both sides must dispose of an equal amount of the material.