Next week, Mitt Romney will dive into a rite of passage for presidential candidates: the big trip overseas to burnish foreign policy credentials.

But for Mr. Romney, the question is not whether he can duplicate the euphoria that greeted Barack Obama’s foreign campaign swing in 2008. Even Mr. Romney’s Republican backers acknowledge there is no way he can compete with the images of Mr. Obama before 200,000 cheering Germans at Berlin’s Victory Column, or the well-timed endorsement by the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, of Mr. Obama’s call for a timetable for withdrawal of American troops just as Mr. Obama arrived in Iraq.

Far more important, both political and foreign policy experts say, is whether Mr. Romney will be able to use the three-country trip to Britain, Israel and Poland to establish a solid foreign policy doctrine that distinguishes him in a meaningful way from the president.