DES MOINES — Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, who is running a distant third in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, on Monday blamed the national party for his inability to get traction.

O’Malley has for months complained that the Democratic National Committee scheduled only four debates prior to the Feb. 1 caucuses in Iowa, where he is competing against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Appearing at the Iowa Brown & Black Forum here, O’Malley was asked: “Is the DNC the reason you’ve struggled to challenge Hillary Clinton’s nomination?”

“Yes,” O’Malley replied.

“Look, I don’t know make the rules,” he said. “The rules are made by other people, the DNC chair. We’ve never had such an undemocratic debate schedule as we have this year in the Democratic party. And then to add insult to injury, they schedule these debates on Saturday nights when as few people will see them as possible.”

Monday night’s forum, a key stop for Democratic candidates since 1984, offered a chance to discuss concerns relevant to minority communities. Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley all participated but appeared separately since the gathering was not a DNC-sanctioned debate.

In a poll released Sunday, O’Malley was drawing 5 percent of the vote in Iowa. Clinton led with 48 percent, while Sanders got 45 percent in the poll sponsored by the Wall Street Journal, NBC News and Marist College.

O’Malley told the audience at the forum, which was broadcast by the Fusion television network, that he was confident he would surprise people in the Iowa caucuses despite his limited exposure

“I believe the people of Iowa have a way of sorting through things,” O’Malley said.