Cassidy had a close relationship with Hawke after he worked as the PM’s press secretary from 1986 to 1991,
Former Labor MP Craig Emerson, who was very close to Mr Hawke and was often seen as his surrogate son, urged Cassidy in recent weeks to visit the former PM “sooner rather than later”.
“And I didn’t,” Cassidy said, looking visibly upset on air tonight.
“I didn’t because of the campaign. I was going to do it after the campaign and I didn’t.”
Host Karina Carvalho acknowledged his emotional reaction, saying “don’t be too hard on yourself, Barrie”.
Cassidy earlier described Mr Hawke as an “intellectual knockabout” and the sort of person who was just as at ease with world leaders as the punters at the racetrack.
“People had the sense they could approach him at any time and have a chat with him,” Cassidy said.
“I tell you what most impressed me about him: He wouldn’t cop racism.
“He just wouldn’t cop it at any level. At the very whiff of it, he’d be right on to it.”
Hawke, Australia’s longest-serving Labor prime minister Bob Hawke, died Thursday aged 89.
“Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian — many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” his second wife Blanche d’Alpuget said in a statement.
“He died peacefully at home.”
The son of a preacher, Hawke led his country during the 1980s, a period during which he seduced the nation with his everyman appeal while beginning deregulation of the economy, including floating the dollar.
From negotiating with Frank Sinatra to ensure the crooner’s 1974 Sydney concerts went ahead to shedding tears over bloodshed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Hawke was a huge presence on Australia’s political landscape.
Never voted out by the public, which forgave him his faults, he won four elections on the run beginning in 1983, and only left office following a party room coup.
To many he was a quintessential Australian “larrikin” — a beloved rogue. His death comes days before Australians go to the polls.
— with AAP