Change search function to from one year and older than, and in ascending order.
This was the earliest reference to Barack I could find was by dropzone, referring to a speach he made in Illnois for his Senate seat.
Then there are a handful of threads that speak optimistically for Obama:
Suppose Kerry Wins, But…(GD 06-11-2004)
Barack Obama has a change of heart…(BBQ 07-25-2004)
Obama for President!(MPSIMS 07-27-2004)
Barack Obama(GD 07-27-2004)
Let’s discuss the Democratic Convention!(GD 07-26-2004)
Keyes To Run Against Obama in Illinois Senate Race (GD 08-06-2004)
ETA: All you jerks who live in “Obamaville” make it difficult to search these threads using the “find word” tool in my browser.